Periodontal pathology, or periodontal diseases, are a group of diseases which affects one or more of the periodontal tissues (i.e. alveolar bone,periodontal ligament,cementum and gingiva). While many different diseases affect these tooth-supporting structures, by far the most common of these are plaque-induced inflammatory conditions, which are considered as gingivitis and periodontitis. Often the terms periodontal disease or gum disease is used as a synonym of periodontitis, specifically chronic periodontitis.While in some sites or individuals, gingivitis never progresses to periodontitis, data indicate that periodontitis is always preceded by gingivitis.
It is the responsibility of the dental clinician to ensure that any dental treatment provided minimises plaque retention; this is a part of treatment planning. Clear advice must be given on the need to clean bridges, dentures and orthodontic appliances (braces) effectively and regularly. Calculus (or tartar) is a form of hardened (mineralised) plaque, which can form on teeth both above gum level and within periodontal pockets. Calculus cannot be removed by toothbrushing; careful professional scaling is needed for its removal. While appropriate professional treatment is important, it must be stressed that the highest priority for plaque control is effective daily oral hygiene by the individual.
Periodontal disease can be prevented with:
- Daily meticulous removal of plaque by toothbrushing
- Regular visits to the dentist/hygienist (once a year)
- Avoidance of behavioural and environmental risk factors(e.g., smoking, stress, poor diet)