Periodontal Disease: What Is It and How Can I Prevent It?

Periodontal Disease: What Is It and How Can I Prevent It?

October is here and it’s time to discuss something VERY scary. It isn’t monsters, goblins or ghosts – we’re talking about periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the areas surrounding the teeth. This can include your gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. Many are familiar with gingivitis, the earliest stage of periodontal disease, but as your case becomes more severe it can eventually affect even more tissue than just the gums.

The primary cause of periodontitis comes from the different types of bacteria in dental plaque. The bacteria cause an infection in the gums, and results in bleeding, swelling and aching. This phenomenon is fairly common, in fact in a 1999 study, researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that half of Americans over 30 had bleeding gums. If left untreated though, periodontitis will lead to impacted bones and ligaments in the jaw. A patient’s teeth may become decayed, loose, or even fall out during this stage.

As if that isn’t terrifying enough, research also shows a direct link between periodontitis and other health conditions.

  • Atherosclerosis and heart disease — Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease, although the extent of this connection is unclear. Gum disease also is believed to worsen existing heart disease.
  • Stroke — Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by blocked arteries.
  • Diabetes — People with diabetes and periodontal disease may be more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetics with healthy gums.
  • Respiratory disease— Gum disease may cause lung infections and worsen existing lung conditions when bacteria from the mouth reach the lungs.

The good news is that if caught early, periodontal disease is relatively easy to combat. Practicing good oral hygiene is the first step to avoiding periodontal disease. You should also be sure to schedule regular visits with your dentist for a deeper cleaning. If you have no other dental problems, seeing your dentist twice a year should be enough to ward off bacteria. It’s also important to let your dentist know if you have gum sensitivity, or bleeding as you brush and floss. Leave the blood to the vampires this Halloween season!

But what happens if you have already developed a full-blown case of periodontitis? Don’t worry, here at Advanced Dental Arts we have a variety of procedures that can help you.

  • Scaling and root planning, otherwise known as a deep professional cleaning. Tartar and bacteria is scraped from above and below the gum line and then rough spots on the tooth root are removed and then a teeth cleaning is performed.
  • Medications can be administered either in conjunction with another treatment or as a standalone treatment. Depending on the severity of the situation, surgery or a scaling and root planning may also be needed.
  • Flap surgery is recommended if inflammation and deep pockets are still present following a medication treatment. This can also help remove tartar deposits. During the procedure, the gum will be lifted from the tooth and any debris underneath will be eliminated.
  • Bone and tissue grafts may also be done in addition to a flap surgery if the bone or gum tissue has been destroyed by periodontitis. Tissue regeneration can be achieved with grafts, which will help encourage new growth in areas that were affected.

For more on our treatment options, click here. If you think you may be experiencing periodontitis, contact our office today to discuss your treatment options. And even if your gums are healthy, come see us for your semi-annual cleaning to ward of disease!

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