Gum (Periodontal) disease is an inflammation or infection of the supporting structures of the teeth, the bone and the surrounding gum tissue. It is caused by a sticky, colorless film that is constantly forming on your teeth. This film is called plaque. If this film is not cleaned off the teeth with proper brushing and flossing the bacteria in the plaque cause an inflammation of the gum tissue called gingivitis. The symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums. If you have any of these symptoms it would be wise to contact a dentist as soon as possible. If left untreated it progresses to periodontitis.
Periodontitis occurrs when the plaque starts to calcify and become calculus or tartar. This then migrates under the gum tissue causing pocketing around the teeth and starts to destroy the bone tissue. If left long enough the entire supporting structure is destroyed and the tooth or teeth are lost. Unfortunately, this disease is found in 3 out of 4 adults over 35. The symptoms of periodontitis are loose or shifting teeth, gum tissue separating from your teeth, longer appearing teeth, and/or pus or an unpleasant taste or odor coming from your mouth.
Gingivitis can be treated at home by properly brushing and flossing daily to remove the bacteria laden plaque. Periodontitis can’t be treated at home. The tartar that forms under your gums must be cleaned off by a dentist or hygienist. This procedure is called root planing and scaling. If caught early enough minimum damage of the supporting structures occur and there is a good prognosis to keep the teeth. If it is more advanced other therapies including gum surgery or bone regeneration may have to be performed. In the worst case the teeth may have to be pulled.
So, eating well balanced meals, avoiding snacking (especially sweets), regular brushing, flossing and regular check-ups should limit your risk of getting gum disease.
Scaling and root planing can cost from $75 to $300 per quadrant (There are 4 in your mouth.). More extensive periodontal procedures can cost as much as $1500 per quadrant depending on the case and what is performed.