Periodontics

What is periodontics?

Periodontics is a dental specialty that involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes and the maintenance of the health, function and aesthetics of these structures and tissues. More simply, it relates to the treatment of the gums and the bone around the teeth.

Why would I need periodontics?

Many people are unaware they have periodontal disease because the symptoms may only become noticeable at a more advanced stage when the disease is well progressed, but a dentist is trained to examine your teeth at your regular check-ups to avoid missing the diagnosis.

A periodontal evaluation may be important if:

  • You notice any symptoms of periodontal disease (see below).
  • You are not satisfied with your current tooth replacement option, such as a bridge or dentures, and may be interested in dental implants.
  • You are thinking of becoming pregnant. Pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby born too early and too small. In addition, about half of women experience pregnancy gingivitis. However, women who have good oral hygiene and have no gingivitis before pregnancy are very unlikely to experience this condition.
  • You feel that your teeth are too short or that your smile is too ‘gummy.’ Or, if you are missing one or more of your teeth and are interested in a long-lasting replacement option.
  • You have a family member with periodontal disease. Research suggests that the bacteria that cause periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
  • You have heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease or osteoporosis. Ongoing research is showing that periodontal disease may be linked to these conditions. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel into the blood stream and pose a threat to other parts of the body. Healthy gums may lead to a healthier body.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the infection of the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. In the earliest stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — the infection affects the gums. In more severe forms of the disease, all of the tissues are involved

Symptoms of periodontal disease

Symptoms of periodontal disease may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, warning signs include:
  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • Sores in your mouth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures