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What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The term “periodontal”means “around the tooth.”  Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the jawbone itself when in its most advanced stages.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue.  A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues.  Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat.  Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone.  If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Types of Periodontal Disease

When left untreated, gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can spread to below the gum line.  When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue.  There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue.  Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease.

Here are some of the most common types of periodontal disease:

  • Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession.  It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding.  This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.

  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual.  It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and familial aggregation.

  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition.  Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.

  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age.  Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the periodontist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone.  A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.

Here are some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease:

  • Scaling and root planing – In order to preserve the health of the gum tissue, the bacteria and calculus (tartar) which initially caused the infection, must be removed.  The gum pockets will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics as necessary to help alleviate the infection.  A prescription mouthwash may be incorporated into daily cleaning routines.

  • Tissue regeneration – When the bone and gum tissues have been destroyed, regrowth can be actively encouraged using grafting procedures.  A membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to assist in the regeneration process.

  • Pocket elimination surgery – Pocket elimination surgery (also known as flap surgery) is a surgical treatment which can be performed to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums.  Surgery on the jawbone is another option which serves to eliminate indentations in the bone which foster the colonization of bacteria.

  • Dental implants – When teeth have been lost due to periodontal disease, the aesthetics and functionality of the mouth can be restored by implanting prosthetic teeth into the jawbone.  Tissue regeneration procedures may be required prior to the placement of a dental implant in order to strengthen the bone.

Ask your dentist if you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment, or dental implants.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

Trust, is the word that comes to mind when I think of Dr. Iati and his staff. Being a one of a kind patient and asking for a 'Masterpiece Smile' was no easy task. To top things off, I moved to Newport Coast, California in the middle of my procedure.

I could have easily selected another dentist and joined the Hollywood Stars, but I knew Dr. Iati had a mission that no other could accurately attempt to complete. It wasn't just slapping on veneers for a sparkling white smile. It was a complete adjustment of my bite. Even after Dr. Iati suggested we select a dentist in my area to help with the procedure, I refused and was willing to travel back and forth to accomplish our goal.

No other doctor or dentist has ever been as concerned about me as a patient and I was not about to give that up. He personally called me at home after each procedure; he would check up on me through email or a phone call just to see how I was feeling or if there was any change. When I was down and complaining, he would listen and help me through it.

Now, I feel it was well worth the wait. I have no more headaches or jaw pain, just that 'Masterpiece Smile' I requested when I first sat in his chair. Mission Accomplished! Thanks, Dr. Iati!!

Jan B. Newport Coast, CA

Dear Dr. Iati (and all the nice folks at Stow Dental Group),

Just a note to say thanks again for making what could have been a traumatic ordeal into a pure pleasure. I am still amazed at how nice the whole experience of "going to the dentist" can be. I sure appreciate how hard you all work to make this happen. Your skill and expertise are only half of it. Your attitude and thoughtfulness are the rest. I have NEVER been to ANY medical facility that made me feel less like a symptom and more like a human being and I wanted you to know you are not taken for granted.

From the time I walked in the door to the time I left all of you treat me with the dignity and respect that make me feel good about my visits. No Kidding, I now look forward to my visits.

Thank you, Thank you, and Thank you.

Roy T.

Dear Dr. Iati,

I am writing this letter to thank you for all the great dental work that you have done to bring back my overall health and well being.

After having you and your team of professionals evaluate my condition and perform my dental work, I have realized what a life changing experience this has been for me and my family.

My past dental work left me with a missing tooth and a very unhealthy future. I fully expected to loose the remaining teeth I had at the time. After my first visit, I knew I had chosen the right dentist for my needs. I decided then and there that my entire family of four would move to your practice.

I can never thank you enough for what this has meant to me and my family but if this letter helps another family choose your practice, then I feel that I have helped others that may be in need of your dental skills and expertise.

Sincerely thankful, Richard Green

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