‘Periodontal’ simply means the tissue around the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligament (between the tooth and the bone), and the bone underneath. Gum disease is inflammation of these tissues.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, and occurs when a bacterial film known as plaque has been allowed to accumulate on the tooth surface for more than 1-2 days. It causes inflammation in the gum tissue, and can lead to bleeding and swelling in these areas. Often this plaque film calcifies into calculus, or otherwise known as tartar. Shallow pockets form between the tooth and the gum, and if we don’t remove the cause of the inflammation, if can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of the disease where the plaque damages the bony support around the tooth. Deeper pockets form, which are more difficult to clean, and if left unchecked, can lead to loosening and eventual loss of the tooth.
It is possible to have periodontal disease with no warning signs, which is why regular dental checkup are required. Treatment depends on how far the disease has progressed and can be as simple as twice-yearly scale and cleans by your dentist or hygienist. If it has progressed further, deeper scaling may be required, or referral to a specialist for more complex treatment.
Once we have done our job to clean the plaque and calculus, it is then your job to try and maintain gum health at home with great oral hygiene.