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Periodontitis is a very common infection of the gum and bone surrounding the teeth. Most people who suffer from periodontitis are not aware that they have it until a dental professional brings it to their attention. The most common factors involving the formation of periodontitis are oral hygiene, smoking, diet, genetics, and stress. When plaque remains on the teeth the gums, and bone can react. If periodontitis is left untreated, inflammation caused by the reaction to plaque can eventually affect the tissues that hold the teeth into the bone. While gingivitis only affects the gums, periodontitis affects the attachment of the teeth to the gums and bone. With periodontitis, the gums produce hard deposits called calculus on the teeth. As calculus forms, gums try to fend off foreign matter with a response from the human body’s immune system. This response creates redness to the gums that can but do not always accompany periodontitis. As the gums change, a pocket forms around the teeth. A periodontal probe is used to measure the pocket depth. If the pocket is more than 3mm deep it may be next to impossible for you to clean the pocket to maintain a healthy gum situation.

To stop this destructive process it is necessary to treat the affected area. This treatment usually starts with root planning. Root planning is a precise, cautious, cleaning of the root surfaces below the gum line where the battle is taking place. Once the irritating calculus and plaque are removed from the teeth the gums often heal. This can only be accomplished if the teeth remain clean with meticulous and consistent brushing, flossing, and recommended dental checkups (every 6 months). Despite root planning, chronic inflammation may have caused gums to become thick. Removing excess tissue may be necessary to allow the gums to function normally. This is called pocket reduction therapy. Healthy gums can be maintained more easily with pockets of 3 mm or less. Chronic inflammation may have also damaged the bone, creating bone loss and irregularities. This type of bone condition may require a procedure to smooth out the surfaces or replace bone to provide a healthy bone foundation. This procedure is called bone recontouring. The immune system’s response to calculus can reverse a chemical that causes gum and bone loss to accompany periodontitis without intervention. This degenerative process can continue with the bone until there may be very little bone left to support the teeth. If periodontal condition is left untreated long enough the teeth will become loose and what bone is left will no longer be able to keep the teeth that are left from falling out. With proper care, it may be possible to keep teeth that have been damaged by periodontitis.