Periodontology is a field specialised in the treatment of gums and the parodontium. The parodontium involves the tissues surrounding the teeth: the bones, the fibres that bind the teeth to the bone, and the gums. Diseases of the parodontium are caused by bacterial inflammation. Accumulated plaque on the surface of the tooth is a source of bacteria that leads to destructive inflammation. This often painless inflammation is initially limited to the gums, but then spreads to the bones and the fibres that secure the teeth, ultimately destroying these structures. This process may remain undetected (sometimes for many years) until tooth migration, tooth loosening or tooth decay draws attention to the inflammation. The primary symptoms of parodontium disease are bleeding and swollen gums, widened space between teeth, unpleasant breath and loosened teeth.
Most patients with gum disease report bleeding gums, mobility of teeth, or mild pain. Unfortunately, these symptoms are in most cases typical of the already advanced stages of the disease. It is therefore our ambition to educate our patients about the most typical symptoms and at the same time to arrest the development of periodontal disease by prevention.
Dental diseases can be diagnosed by screening tests ran not only by specialists, but also by dentists working in general practice. However, the treatment should be entrusted to a specialist, a periodontologist.
Gum disease is treatable and curable. However, the tissue that is destroyed as a result of inflammation can rarely be restored to its original state. A realistic result is the healing of the inflammation and the preservation of the state achieved after healing. It is important to emphasize that, since the problem of dental disease tends to affect susceptible individuals maintenance therapy is still necessary after recovery requiring a life-long commitment and care from both the patient and the specialist.
The purpose of periodontontal treatment is to keep natural teeth as long as possible and in a functional condition. The basis of the treatment is scaling in order to reduce the bacterial mass that causes the inflammation. In order to maintain a clean oral cavity, proficient dental care at home is absolutely necessary. If oral hygiene is not adequate, periodontal therapy cannot be successful.
Periodontal therapy consists of several treatment stages, but the sequence is always the same. The severity of the dental disease determines which stages the patient has to undergo in order to achieve a complete recovery. Curing an inflamed parodontium is a time-consuming process requiring patience and commitment. Treatment and recovery periods interchange throughout the therapy.
Like most diseases, periodontal inflammation is easier to prevent than to treat. The most important means of prevention are regular examinations, professional hygiene treatment and skilful dental care at home.
Periodontology also covers the correction of gums. Most often the detachment of the gum from the tooth, which is called recession, can cause discomfort. Sometimes, however, gums which are too thick can be the cause of aesthetic problems. There's a solution to both by appropriate surgical corrections (see: aesthetic surgery.)