Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is an infection that causes damage to the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. This can result in bone loss and eventual tooth loss if it becomes severe. Symptoms of periodontal disease include red, swollen and/or bleeding gums, gums that recede from the teeth, loose teeth and bad breath. Sometimes the infection can be deep below the surface of the gums and appear to have little external symptoms, including little or no pain. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and other health problems including an increased risk of heart disease.
Periodontal disease can be treated and maintained. Scaling and root planing, or a deep cleaning, allows the hygienist to remove tartar and bacteria build up from below the gum line. This promotes the tightening of the gum tissue around the teeth and the stabilization of the supporting structures. Once periodontal disease is stabilized, further complications can be prevented with regular maintenance appointments and proper home care.