Did you know that the most common cause of tooth loss in adults is gum disease? According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every two adults over the age of 30 in the United States has periodontal disease. However, the good news is that periodontal disease is almost entirely preventable.
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is a set of inflammatory diseases that affect the “periodontium”, which are the hard and soft tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. Just like tooth decay, gum disease is attributed to the harmful bacteria in dental plaque and tartar that accumulate around the teeth and under the gums.
Some indications that you may have periodontal disease include:
Taking care of your smile does more than keep your teeth and gums in optimal condition; good oral health also supports systemic health. In addition to being the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, researchers are finding more and more links between periodontal disease and a number of medical problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory problems.
At the office of PresiDental Care, we emphasize the importance of prevention, early detection, and timely treatment of periodontal disease. We provide patients the guidance, support, and care required to maintain optimal periodontal health.
Scaling and root planing, also known as deep cleaning, is a non-surgical treatment for gum disease. It involves the removal of plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) from the teeth and roots below the gumline.
Antibacterial therapy may be used in conjunction with scaling and root planing to help eliminate the bacteria that cause gum disease.
Lifestyle changes can play a crucial role in treating gum disease. This may include improving oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly, using antibacterial mouthwashes, and quitting smoking if you smoke, as smoking is a significant risk factor for gum disease.
After initial treatment, ongoing periodontal maintenance is crucial for managing gum disease. This typically involves regular professional cleanings, usually every three to four months, to remove plaque and tartar buildup, monitor gum health, and assess the effectiveness of the treatment.
Gingivitis represents the initial stage of gum disease. Although it doesn’t cause overt discomfort and often goes unnoticed, there are specific signs to be aware of that indicate the start of a problem. If you notice your gums bleed when you brush, look red and inflamed, or feel a little tender, you more than likely have gingivitis.
The good news is that by treating gingivitis early, the tissue damage associated with more advanced stages of gum disease can be avoided. Despite the presence of inflammation, the overall integrity of the periodontal tissues in this stage remains intact.
When left untreated, a case of gingivitis develops into a more advanced and damaging stage of gum disease, known as periodontitis. At this point, the connective tissue and bone that hold the teeth in place begin to break down. With the progression of periodontal disease and periodontitis, more and more tissue loss ensues. Damage often includes an increase in pocketing between the teeth and bone, gum recession, and bone loss. As unresolved periodontitis goes from mild to moderate to severe, it increasingly compromises the soft and hard tissues supporting the teeth.
Periodontal treatment in this phase is designed to halt the progression of the disease and to restore tooth support as possible. Treatment may involve medications to control the bacteria and reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and gums, gum surgery, as well as bone and tissue grafts.
Gum disease can present with several signs and symptoms, including red, swollen, and bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, receding gumline, loose teeth, changes in bite or tooth alignment, and the formation of pockets between the gums and teeth. If you experience any of these symptoms, it's important to see a dentist or periodontist for an evaluation and appropriate gum disease treatment.
The treatment options for gum disease can vary depending on the severity and stage of the disease. Common treatment options may include non-surgical methods such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning), antimicrobial therapy (e.g., mouthwashes, gels, or oral antibiotics), and lifestyle changes (e.g., improved oral hygiene practices, quitting smoking, adopting a healthy diet). In more severe cases, surgical treatments such as gum flap surgery, bone grafting, or gum grafting may be necessary.
The duration of gum disease treatment can vary depending on the severity and stage of the disease, as well as the treatment approach used. Non-surgical treatments such as scaling and root planing may be completed in one or more visits, while surgical treatments may require multiple appointments and a longer recovery period. Your dentist or periodontist will provide you with a treatment plan and timeline tailored to your individual needs.
Non-surgical gum disease treatment methods such as scaling and root planing are typically performed with local anesthesia to numb the gums and minimize discomfort. Some soreness or sensitivity may be experienced after the treatment, but it is usually temporary. Surgical treatments may involve more discomfort during the recovery period, which can be managed with prescribed pain medications or over-the-counter pain relievers. Your dentist or periodontist will take steps to ensure your comfort during the treatment and provide appropriate pain management options.
While gum disease cannot be completely cured, it can be effectively managed and controlled with appropriate treatment and ongoing maintenance. The goal of gum disease treatment is to eliminate the infection, reduce inflammation, and prevent further progression of the disease. Following a proper oral hygiene routine, attending regular dental check-ups and cleanings, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and complying with recommended treatment and maintenance protocols can help manage gum disease and maintain optimal oral health.