Periodontitis is an inflammation of the gums, which affects the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. When this inflammation isn’t treated, the teeth can loosen and are eventually lost. Signals and symptoms that can indicate periodontitis are:

  • Swollen gums
  • Red gums
  • Sensitive gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gums, making your teeth look longer than normal
  • Developing space between your teeth
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Loose teeth and molars

Periodontitis is nearly always the result of bad or non-effective oral hygiene and a lack of preventive dentistry care. Periodontitis starts with dental plaque. Dental plaque is a sticky layer consisting of mainly bacteria that sticks to the teeth. When this sticky layer isn’t regularly and effectively removed with, for example, a toothbrush or interdental brush, it can harden and become calculus. This hard layer can serve as a refuge for new bacteria. Calculus can no longer be removed with brushing, this can only be removed by a dental hygienist or dentist.

The longer dental plaque and calculus remain on the teeth, the more damage it causes. Initially, only the gums are infected (gingiva). This gum inflammation is the first stage of periodontitis and is called gingivitis.

When the inflammation has been present for longer, spaces (pockets) can develop between the tooth and the gums. Dental plaque and calculus accumulate in these pockets. After a while, the inflammation makes the pockets grow deeper, causing loss of bone.

When too much bone is lost, you can lose teeth and molars.

To determine (the seriousness of) periodontitis, we carefully listen to your complaints and examine your mouth and gums: we do this by; 1. Measuring the depth of the space (pocket) between your tooth and gum. We do this by carefully sliding a small metal bar past the tooth to the bottom of the pocket. With healthy gums, the depth of this pocket is usually between 1 and 3 mm deep.

2. Taking X-rays to assess the loss of bone in the places that have deep pockets.

With all this information combined, we can make a clear diagnosis and draw up an individual treatment plan. We will then discuss this plan and the different steps of gum treatment with you. The goal of this gum treatment is the thorough cleaning of the pockets and to prevent further decay. The key to success of the treatment is to achieve and maintain perfect dental hygiene.

The first step of the treatment is to clean under the gums. This is done with special instruments, which can mechanically remove dental plague and calculus under the gums. This often happens in a number of sessions and the gums can be anaesthetized beforehand.

Three months after all pockets have been cleaned, the specialist once again assesses your gums. They will assess whether the inflammation has been reduced and whether your dental hygiene has been improved. If inflammation is still present, you can potentially be treated with local surgery (flap) to stop further loss of bone and in some cases, it’s even possible to develop new bone.

When gum treatment is successful, it’s very important that your dental hygiene remains perfect to prevent relapse. You can achieve this by having regular check-ups and professional cleaning done every 3 to 6 months. This way, your gums are closely watched and should there be any relapse, action can be taken quickly and efficiently.