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What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Tartar and Gum Disease You’ve been told that you have periodontal disease and that you need to see a periodontist. Now what? What is a “periodontist”? And what is “periodontal disease”? Read on to have your fundamental questions answers before even stepping foot in a periodontal office.

What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dentist who has completed additional years of training and schooling beyond general dental school. This specialist training requires three extra years of education beyond dental school, and five more years on top of that if the periodontist decides to further his or her studies by earning a “diplomate” in periodontology.

For example, after Dr. Singletary completed dental school, he spent three more years earning his certification as a periodontist, and five more years earning “diplomate” status through intensive research and clinical practice.

This specialized training equips the periodontist to prevent, diagnose, and treat periodontal disease specifically. Moreover, periodontists undergo rigorous training to become experts at placing dental implants. Periodontists must stay apprised of the latest techniques and newest research findings for diagnosing and treating periodontal disease.

What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, or “periodontitis,” is a fancy way of referring to diseased gums. A plethora of bacteria live in your mouth, and this is not necessarily something to worry about. However, certain types of bacteria may outgrow others, and when that happens, you may begin to develop gum disease.

Gum disease is a serious bacterial infection that damages soft tissue and ultimately the bone in the mouth. “Plaque,” a sticky film of bacteria, clings to the teeth unless removed by brushing and flossing. When people do not fastidiously remove this bacteria, the plaque hardens and calcifies into “tartar,” similar to barnacles that cling to the bottom of a boat.

The bacteria that thrives in plaque inflames the gums, making them red, puffy, and painful. While healthy gums hug the teeth and keep them in place, inflamed gums tend to pull away from the teeth. Then spaces called “pockets” form between the gums and teeth, into which bacteria accumulate, causing infection. These “pockets” wreak havoc on the vitality of teeth and gums and promulgates the progression of periodontal disease.

Left untreated, the disease ravages the bone that supports the teeth. That is why people who ignore their periodontal disease often end up losing teeth.

Fortunately, periodontitis is both preventable and treatable. Conversely, ignoring periodontal disease will not make it go away; in fact, refusing to seek treatment exacerbates the disease exponentially. That is why it is crucial to regularly brush, floss, and get regular checkups.

Questions? Call North Raleigh Periodontics at (919) 518-8222. We’d love to hear from you!