Peri is the Greek word root for “around” and odontics refers to “tooth.” Thus, periodontics focuses on the care and well-being of the structures surrounding and supporting your teeth.
Periodontal structures include:
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in the sticky substance -- called plaque -- that forms on your teeth during the normal course of your day. Brushing, flossing, and routine visits to the dentist help keep plaque under control. Poor oral hygiene causes plaque to build up on your teeth and eventually harden into tartar. The bacteria buildup triggers your immune system to create antibodies designed to destroy what it considered invaders.
Your gums normally fit snugly against your teeth and provide a protective barrier for the nerve root and other supportive structures. The antibodies created by your immune system to destroy plaque-causing bacteria can lead to inflammation of the gums, which is called gingivitis. This causes your gums to recede and pull away from your teeth, creating pockets where bacteria can continue to multiply and spread. Gingivitis is the earliest sign of periodontal disease, and initial symptoms typically include bleeding and tender gums.
Other factors that contribute to receding gums include harsh brushing techniques, smoking, and crooked or crowded teeth. As periodontal disease progresses, if left untreated, it can lead to significant complications such as bone loss and eventual destruction of the ligaments and bony structures holding your teeth in place.
Prevention through proper brushing and flossing techniques, as well as semiannual visits to Dr. Pak for routine exams and cleanings is, of course, the best method for “treating” periodontal disease.
For gum recession and excessive plaque and tartar buildup, Dr. Pak can provide deep dental cleanings to remove plaque, tartar, and debris located below the gums. These deep cleanings are also called scaling and root planing, and can make it possible for your gums to reattach to your teeth.