Periodontal disease – the main cause of which is the accumulation of plaque around the teeth – is widespread in Lithuania. Studies show that almost 90 per cent of the population have some signs of this disease.
If periodontitis is left untreated, initial clinical signs eventually progress into severe stages of periodontitis, which can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. The main danger with this disease is that the symptoms develop slowly and painlessly, so a patient may go years without noticing that there is a problem.
What are the signs that indicate the development of periodontitis?
- Redness of gums;
- Bleeding of gums;
- Gum recession and exposure of the roots of the teeth (resulting in apparent lengthening of teeth);
- The appearance of spaces between the teeth due to bone resorption;
- Loose teeth and change of position;
- Tooth sensitivity to cold, hot or acidic food;
The first symptom is bleeding gums, which is the most noticeable while brushing teeth. As soon as you notice bleeding, you should see a periodontist immediately for an accurate diagnosis.
The first stage of treatment
Periodontitis treatment begins with the removal of tartar and plaque and polishing the teeth. This stage is referred to as non-surgical periodontal therapy and requires the patient to come in a few times, some 1-2 weeks apart.
Cleaning is done with local anaesthesia, using a modern ultrasonic instrument. After the first visit, the dental hygienist will select the best oral hygiene products for your condition and explain how to clean your teeth properly at home.
What can be expected after the first stage of treatment?
Gum bleeding, burning and itching may decrease or stop completely. The tooth surface will become smooth, and some teeth will be less loose. Mild to moderate periodontitis is easy to treat and sometimes does not require surgery, but if the gingival pockets are 5-6 mm deep, surgical treatment is necessary.
The second stage of treatment
This stage begins three months – or 4-6 weeks in some cases – after the first stage ends. During this time, shallow pockets may disappear completely, and deep pockets may become noticeably smaller.
If deep periodontal pockets remain, surgical correction is required; this is known as flap surgery. The patient is given local anaesthesia, and then the gums are folded back, revealing the roots and allowing the dentist to remove tartar deposits in deep pockets that were unreachable during professional cleaning. After thoroughly cleaning the infected tissues, the gums are put back in place and closed with stitches.
How is this treatment method effective?
This is a modern method of treatment during which the healthy part of the bone is preserved and a portion of the bone loss around the teeth is restored. The teeth end up becoming stronger and functioning longer.
The third stage of treatment (maintenance treatment)
Why is maintenance treatment necessary for patients with periodontitis?
Maintenance treatment is necessary to ensure that the disease does not recur in the future. If dental plaque builds up on the surface of the teeth again, the gums will become infected and the disease will come back.
If the disease recurs, it usually develops very quickly and is then more difficult to treat. Professional cleaning must be done on a regular basis and immunity in the oral cavity must be maintained in order to avoid repeat dental inflammation.