Common Periodontal Definitions

Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease: Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the supporting tissues that hold your teeth in place. In advanced stages, periodontal (gum) disease can lead to sore & bleeding gums, chewing problems, and eventually tooth loss.

Gingivitis: The first and earliest stage of gum disease that is inflammation of your gum tissue caused by harmful bacteria present under your gums. With simple, additional attention to your mouth and gums, inflammation can be reduced, and gum condition improved because the gingivitis stage does not cause permanent damage to gum tissue, ligaments, and bone support. 

Periodontitis: The second and more harmful type of gum infection in which harmful bacteria cause damage to the tissues and bone that are supporting your teeth. Without proper treatment, periodontitis can advance to a more severe gum infection that continues to destroy your gums and jawbone that support your teeth. Without support, your teeth can shift, loosen, and eventually need to be removed.  

Scaling & Root Planing (SRP): A non-surgical treatment for early gum disease that involves a deep cleaning underneath the gums where root debris and harmful bacteria exists. This procedure is typically done by a dental hygienist. It may require local anesthesia to complete but has very little discomfort or downtime.  

Periodontal Maintenance:  A therapy program that involves 3-4 cleanings per year that are typically alternated between a periodontal office and general dental office. Because the bacteria that causes periodontal disease re-establishes 3 months after treatment, more frequent cleanings are needed to keep bacteria from starting the destructive process again. 

Dental Prophylaxis: The proper term for a dental cleaning.

Ultrasonic scaler: A power-driven tool used to clean teeth and under gums using high frequency vibration.

Oral-systemic Relationship: The relationship between oral health and overall health.

Gum Recession: Is also known as gingival recession and is an exposure of the roots of the teeth due to loss of attached gum tissue.

Enamel: The outer layer of the tooth that is seen when smiling. It is the hardest, mineralized tissue in the body. 

Cementum: The layer of the tooth that covers the roots of the teeth, which are under the gums.  It is thinner and softer than enamel.  

Gum Graft: Is also known as gingival graft is a periodontal surgical procedure that is done to cover tooth-root surfaces and/or thicken thin or detached gum tissue.

Dental Prosthesis: Artificial tooth replacement such as denture, partial, crown, or bridge.

Implant-supported Bridge: A fixed bridge that is supported by implants instead of natural teeth. 

Implant-supported Overdenture: A removable dental prosthesis that is supported by dental implants for support. This treatment offers an alternative for patients who cannot tolerate typical dentures or have poorly fitting dentures.

Digital Dental Impressions: A 3D digital scan inside the mouth that provides a replica of the mouth for treatment planning.

CBCT Dental Scan: Aspecial type of x-ray that provides more information than conventional dental x-rays by using advanced technology to generate 3D images.

Plaque: A soft & sticky film of harmful bacteria that forms on the teeth daily and can be removed with proper brushing and flossing techniques.  

Calculus: A hardened form of dental plaque that requires professional cleaning to remove.

Xerostomia: Dry mouth resulting from reduced saliva flow inside the mouth.

Fluoride: A mineral found naturally in water sources that is also added to public water systems and dental products to help prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride Treatments: A material that contains fluoride that is applied directly to the teeth in order to strengthen and prevent tooth decay.

Morbidity: The rate of disease in a population.

Comorbidity: The presence of two chronic medical conditions that occur at the same time.

Tooth Decay: Tooth structure disease, which is caused by a bacterial action that causes permanent damage and requires professional treatment.

Tooth Remineralization: An organic reparative process in which weakened tooth structure is strengthened.  

Dental Sealants: A liquid material that is placed on the chewing surface of the permanent back teeth and then hardened so that they adhere to deep grooves of the teeth to help protect them from bacteria and acids that contribute to tooth decay.

Periodontal Charting: A documentation method used by a dentist or dental hygienist to record gingival (gum) pockets and assess overall oral conditions relating to oral and periodontal health or disease.

Hard Tissue Charting: A documentation process in which your dental professional lists and describes the health of your teeth.  This list can include documented missing teeth, existing fillings and crowns, and any areas of tooth disease.