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Worried that you are suffering from Pyorrhea of the gums? We help explain what Pyorrhea is, the symptoms it presents with and the treatment required.

The cost of poor oral hygiene and neglect is something that can take a heavy toll in the form of money, time, and loss of teeth. The reasons that are foremost on this list include tooth decay and gum disease. A lot of people are well aware of what tooth decay appears like, the signs and symptoms they might experience, and the treatment involved — but the opposite is true for gum disease.

It is this gum disease, or pyorrhea, that we will be talking about today.

What Is Pyorrhea?

Pyorrhea is an older term for gum disease, however, even though it is no longer the official term (periodontitis is), it continues to be used widely to signify gum disease around the world. The disease stems from a combination of poor oral hygiene and increased susceptibility because of genetic and systemic factors [1].

Pyorrhea can vary widely in its clinical presentation and the severity with which it affects a person, however, the popular reference of pyorrhea is to the symptoms of severely bleeding gums, loose teeth, teeth that have drifted from their position, bad breath (halitosis) and teeth which pop out on their own. [2]

How Can Pyorrhea Be Treated? 

Gum disease is treated in different manners depending upon the stage at which it is detected. The first line of treatment is scaling. This is the same dental procedure that is routinely provided by your dental hygienist to clean your teeth. 

It can be carried out in a single visit or multiple ones if the amount of deposits are a lot. Many times, the dentist will prefer the scaling to be carried out over multiple visits since that allows the gums to heal a little, "shrink" and uncover more deposits.

The scaling may also be followed by something that is referred to as root planning. This is carried out in those sections of the mouth where a moderate amount of destruction has taken place to try and prevent the need for surgical treatment.

For a lot of patients that do not have advanced gum disease, this is all that will be needed. Once the teeth have been cleaned, the body starts to repair the damage and the character of the bacterial population shifts from a disease causing one to a health-promoting one. [3,4]

If however, the pyorrhea has progressed to include some of the symptoms mentioned above, the required treatment is much more invasive and time-consuming.

After the initial scaling has been completed, patients might have to get X-rays to determine the extent of bone loss that has occurred around the teeth. Gum disease eventually causes a loss of the supporting bone around the teeth and thus leads them to become loose or shaky. [5]

The radiographic findings will be corroborated with a clinical examination as well. The jaws will then be divided into areas which require non-surgical treatment, those that require surgical treatment and those that are "hopeless" and need to be extracted.

Surgical Treatment Of Pyorrhea

The surgical treatment of pyorrhea involves procedures that are called "flap surgeries". Here the periodontist (a dentist specializing in gum surgery) will be required to perform the procedure. [6]

The actual surgery itself is performed under local anesthesia and should not take more than 45 minutes from start to finish. The idea is to reflect the gums and clean the underlying root surfaces from plaque and tartar, something that is not possible with non-surgical methods.

In some cases, there may be a need to use additional bone grafts or membranes to help stimulate new bone formation that can increase the support of the affected teeth. [7,8]

Pyorrhea treatment is aimed at arresting the disease process and the creation of a dentition that is easily maintainable by the patient themselves. It must be remembered, however, that once the surgeries have been completed, patients must ensure they are following a high degree of oral hygiene to prevent a recurrence of the same problems. [9]

In fact, the follow-up phase of treatment is considered to be as important as the initial phase of treatment. Pyorrhea is a chronic disease and needs continuous monitoring, much like diabetes or hypertension.

A diagnosis of pyorrhea should also alert the dentist to the presence of other systemic diseases. The most closely related one of all systemic diseases is diabetes. In fact, pyorrhea is now considered to be the sixth classical sign of diabetes. [10]

If diabetes continues to be uncontrolled and maybe even further modified by the presence of smoking, then it is very difficult to treat pyorrhea just by removing the local factors alone.

Is There Any Way To Prevent Pyorrhea From Setting In?

Yes, there is and the answer often befuddles patients because of its simplicity. All that is required is to brush your teeth twice a day and get a professional cleaning done twice a year.

Pyorrhea is a chronic disease that progresses slowly over a long period of time. This is why only small measures need to be taken at regular intervals to never have to face these problems again.

Even if you are already suffering from some degree of pyorrhea, getting treatment and then following this same advice will help increase the lifespan of your remaining teeth considerably. The response to treatment is very predictable and the benefits to the patients are tangible making it an extremely easy decision to take. [7]

The age old notion of teeth having a limited life span is outdated now and we know that people can have healthy functioning teeth for their entire lifespan if they take good care of them.


Pyorrhea or gum disease can be a very difficult problem for patients to live with. Unlike decay, it affects a much larger number of teeth and thus impacts quality of life in a much more significant manner.

Treatment for pyorrhea is relatively simple when undertaken early on in the disease process. Neglect of the condition, however, can prove to be very expensive and complicated indeed.

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