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Understanding Periodontal Disease and Possible Treatments

The condition of your teeth and gums has a greater impact on your total body wellness than you may be aware of. Proper oral hygiene practices are crucial to maintaining a healthy smile and complete physical health.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Severe gum disease is called periodontal disease and it is a serious condition that can damage the soft tissue of your gums, the roots of your teeth, and even the bone surrounding your teeth and into your jaw. It is caused by plaque buildup, tartar under the gumline, or long-term inflammation. This can cause pockets that form between your teeth and gums that collect tartar, plaque, and bacteria and contribute to greater problems.

When left untreated, periodontal disease can result in tooth loss and cause additional health issues elsewhere in your body. If inflammation spreads and the bacteria enter your bloodstream from the gums, it can lead to heart disease, problems controlling your blood sugar in diabetics, respiratory disease, and other consequences. Fortunately, periodontal disease is treatable and can often be prevented with good oral care practices.

Common Symptoms

When you neglect your oral and physical health, you may start to notice symptoms such as:

  • Swollen and tender gums that bleed easily
  • Gums that are bright red or purplish in color
  • Spitting out blood after brushing or flossing
  • A pink tinge to your toothbrush
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between teeth
  • New spaces appearing between your teeth
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Pain when chewing

While the main cause of periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene, you may be at greater risk if you have or have experienced:

  • Gingivitis
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco or recreational drug use
  • Some diseases such as diabetes
  • Genetic disposition
  • Conditions that lower immunity
  • Hormonal changes
  • Prescriptions that cause dry mouth

Visit your dentist for a cleaning and checkup every six months and make an appointment at the first sign of any new or unusual symptoms.

Treatment Options

Your dentist will evaluate your teeth and gums at each appointment, so it’s essential that you keep your regular visits. Early detection is best for fast and effective treatment. When the periodontal disease develops to the point that it can’t be reversed by simple lifestyle and oral care changes, you have a number of options.

First, your dentist will review your medical history and go over any risk factors that may be contributing to your condition. He or she will measure the depth of any pockets that have formed in your gums and take X-rays to determine if you have any bone loss. Once the condition has been evaluated, your dentist will discuss the best course of action. Depending upon the severity, he or she may recommend one of these surgical or nonsurgical treatments.

Cleaning

A deep cleaning that takes place in the office can remove the bacteria, tartar, and plaque that has accumulated. This process can prevent bone damage and encourage healthy tissue growth.

Daily Oral Care Changes

If your dentist is concerned about the condition of your teeth and gums, he or she may recommend a thorough daily hygiene practice that can limit further damage and help restore your oral health. This usually involves brushing your teeth at least twice daily, though after each meal is preferable, daily flossing, a mouth rinse, and using a dental pick to clean between teeth.

Tobacco Cessation

Both smoking and chewing tobacco can cause serious harm to your oral health. Periodontal disease is just one. Continued use may even result in oral cancer. Protect yourself by stopping all tobacco use.

Managing Health Conditions

Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and even stress, put you at a greater risk of developing periodontal disease. Your dentist may recommend that you take additional steps to better manage your conditions through lifestyle changes and working closely with a qualified healthcare professional.

Scaling

When the bacteria and tartar build-up on your teeth and under the surface of the gums becomes severe, your dentist may perform a procedure called scaling. This involves the use of a dental instrument or laser to remove the damaging substance and clean the area.

Root Planing

A process that smoothes the surface of the tooth’s root to remove the accumulated harmful material and prevent additional buildup is called root planing.

Antibiotics

Your dentist may also recommend a course of antibiotics to rid your body of the infection. The prescribed antibiotics may be oral or topical. Always follow the instructions and finish the medication as directed. If you stop early because you believe you are recovering, you could invite the infection to return, or develop a resistance to the medication.

Ridge Augmentation

If you have deep depressions in your gums due to tooth loss or decay, then a ridge augmentation may be performed to lessen the damage.

Crown Lengthening

Sometimes the gums cover a larger area of the tooth than is desirable. This can increase the chance of developing an infection. Crown lengthening can remove some of the gum tissue that is covering the tooth.

Pocket Reduction Surgery

When periodontal disease progresses to the point that pockets develop around your teeth, surgery may be needed to correct this. If left untreated, the area is prone to collecting plaque and bacteria even after they have been cleaned.

Soft Tissue Grafts

Receding gum lines can be unsightly and leave you more susceptible to health concerns. A soft tissue graft can take tissue from the soft palate and use it to restore your gumline.

Bone Grafts

Bone grafts may be needed if the periodontal disease has caused bone loss around the teeth.

Guided Tissue Regeneration

If you have experienced bone loss, this procedure uses a biocompatible fabric that is placed between your tooth and the existing bone to allow the bone to regrow.

Tissue Stimulation Proteins

These gels contain the same type of proteins that are naturally found in your tooth enamel. When applied to the tooth root, it can stimulate new growth.

Laser Treatments

Lasers are often used to remove bacteria and infected tissue to promote oral health.

With proper treatment, you can restore the beauty of your smile, reduce pain and enjoy better health.

Contact our team at Dental Excellence today to find out more about the services we offer and to schedule your appointment.

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