Periodontics involves the prevention and treatment of gum disease. Many people pay attention to oral care as the result of tooth pain and visible tooth problems, but gum health and treatment are of equal, and often, greater importance.
Teeth and gums naturally work in a symbiotic balance, in that the health of one directly affects the other. When tooth issues appear, those problems cause gum issues, which can lead to serious conditions of tooth loss, infections, and more. Conversely, gum health is imperative to tooth health, as gums are the foundation for where teeth are situated.
Gum disease refers to chronic swelling and infection of the gums and dental tissue. It often starts with simple plaque buildup on the teeth. This bacterial plaque builds over time, and without frequent cleaning will evolve and harden into tartar (calculus). Tartar is a rough and porous mineral buildup that is yellow to brownish in color. The hardened material scraped during dental cleanings is tartar, and it can form above or below the gum line.
Tartar’s rough and porous surface invites absorption of food and nicotine stains, further causing the dulling or darkening of your smile. As it is bacterial, tartar will excrete toxins, which creates the beginning of more serious issues if left untreated. The toxins cause gum inflammation, which develops into periodontal pockets that will harbor more bacteria. The additional containment and growth of bacteria causes a breakdown of the connective fibers between gums and teeth, which can result in loose teeth or ultimate tooth loss. More advanced or untreated conditions will love the infection deeper into the jaw and the bone holding teeth in place.
Gingivitus is the early, and less serious, periodontal disease and is easily treatable. Plaque immediately and constantly builds on the surface of the tooth, which is why frequent brushing and flossing keep such bacteria at bay. Gingivitus, if left untreated, may escalate into periodontitus, which is when the supporting tissue and bone are compromised and begin to deteriorate. Most adults do not recognize the escalation of periodontitus, which is why regular dental checkups help ensure the health and viability of both teeth and gums.