Periodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the diseases of the tissues that support the teeth (gums, periodontitis, alveolar bone). The main conditions are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums, the soft tissues that surround the teeth. Swelling is usually caused by the formation of plaque. If nothing is done to treat it, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis.
Periodontitis is an oral disease that can affect one or more teeth, with the main characteristic being the jaw bone recession. Tooth movement is observed at an advanced stage, which, if left untreated, can even lead to their loss. The main causes of the disease are the build-up of bacteria in the form of dental plaque and heredity.
However, there are other factors that affect periodontal disease such as: smoking, diabetes, stress, menopause in women, tooth decay, orthodontic problems, malnutrition (obesity), and the use of certain medications.
Periodontal disease can be asymptomatic even at an advanced stage. However, its main features are the following:
- Red, swollen gums, with or without generalized mouth pain
- Hemorrhage in brushing and using dental floss
- Gum recession, making the teeth look longer
- Pus between gums and teeth
- Wounds to the mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Changes in the positioning of the teeth in the jaws.
It is important to know that treating gingivitis and periodontitis is feasible and therefore teeth can be maintained throughout patient’s life. Generally the treatment of periodontitis is divided into conservative and surgical.
The conservative part includes teaching and controlling oral hygiene, deep cleansing of the tartar (teeth scaling) and controlling other factors related to the disease. It aims at removing inflammation and restoring the health of periodontal tissues. After conservative treatment the outcome is assessed and it is decided whether surgery is necessary to eliminate any remaining periodontal lesions.