Periodontal (gum) disease is insidious. It is an infection of the gums that starts out as plaque, an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar accumulates, it harbors bacteria that attack the soft tissue around the gums. This is the early stage of gum disease known as Gingivitis. Left untreated, Gingivitis becomes Periodontitis which ultimately destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth AND the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals. The disease advances silently, often without pain, and before you know it, you are losing your teeth and you don't know why.
Excessive gum tissue can be the result of:
- Poor Oral Hygiene - gums become inflamed during treatment and do not shrink back to pretreatment levels following removal of the braces.
- Drug-Induced Overgrowth - excessive gum tissue caused by a medication (most often seen in transplant recipients and patients with cardiovascular disease).
- Altered Passive Eruption - as teeth erupt into the mouth, gum tissue and bone work their way down the crowns of the teeth toward to root, resulting in the full exposure of these crowns in the mouth. Altered passive eruption is when this process does not occur.
Tooth loss is only the most obvious indicator of gum disease. Scientific research has discovered linkage between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes - even an increased risk for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.
Flap Surgery (Periodontal Pocket Reduction). Surgery allows access for deep cleaning of the root surface, removal of diseased tissue, and repositioning and shaping of the bones, gum, and tissues supporting the teeth. The basic procedure is known as flap surgery. It is performed under local anesthesia. It is usually done when non surgical treatment alone is not enough to access all the diseased root surfaces, when the pockets are very deep. In some cases bone graft is used to treat certain bone defects caused by the disease process.
In the past, fear of painful dental surgery has kept people with gum disease from seeking the care they needed. Well, those days are gone forever.