Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis and progress to more severe conditions known as periodontitis. When periodontitis is present, the tissue damage extends beyond the gums to include the loss of the collagen attachment of the tooth to the surrounding bone, the development of deep periodontal pockets and the loss of supporting alveolar bone. In this stage the connective tissue and bone that hold the teeth in place begin to break down. Without proper treatment, periodontitis will progress from a mild to moderate loss of supporting tissue to the complete destruction of the alveolar bone around the teeth. As periodontal treatment advances, more extensive procedures are required to halt its progression. The dentist may recommend a series of deeper cleanings involving root planing and scaling, surgical procedures to reduce pocket depth, bone or tissue grafts, laser dentistry procedures, or antimicrobial medications.
By far, the best approach to care is the prevention of periodontal disease. By maintaining an effective regimen of brushing and flossing at home, following a healthy lifestyle and seeing the dentist for routine checkups and professional dental cleanings, gum disease and its consequences are largely preventable.