Periodontal Disease: What You Need To Know
Periodontal disease is a serious condition affecting the gums and the bones supporting the teeth and connective tissues. This gum disease is caused by bacteria in plaque, which builds up on the teeth and along the gum line. It starts as inflammation of the gums, known as gingivitis, which can often be reversed with good oral hygiene. However, if left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis and lead to tooth loss and other health complications such as heart disease.
Periodontal disease can have various symptoms, including red, swollen, bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, loose or shifting teeth, and changes in how dentures fit. It is important to see a dentist if you notice any of these symptoms.
Here are some common preventive measures and treatment options for periodontal disease:
Observing Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene can significantly reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing daily helps to remove plaque build-up, preventing bacteria from attaching to the gum line and causing infection. In addition, regular visits to the dentist for cleanings can help catch any potential issues early on and support good oral hygiene at home. Maintaining good oral hygiene habits may not guarantee complete prevention of periodontal disease, but it can certainly improve your chances of keeping your gums healthy.
During a professional cleaning, the dental professional will remove plaque and tartar build-up from below the gum line and any other areas that regular brushing and flossing may have missed. In cases of advanced periodontal disease, additional treatments such as scaling and root planing may be necessary.
During scaling, a dental professional uses specialized tools to remove tartar and plaque build-up below the gum line and smooth rough spots on tooth surfaces.
Root planing involves removing this build-up on the tooth roots by smoothening the surfaces. This helps to reduce inflammation and protects against further damage.
Antibiotics can help to reduce the bacteria present in the infected areas and prevent further destruction of tissue and bone. It is important to note that antibiotics cannot completely cure periodontal disease. They must be used with other therapies, such as scaling, root planing, and good oral hygiene practices at home.
While regular brushing and flossing are important for maintaining oral health, surgery may be necessary to treat periodontal disease. In cases where plaque build-up has caused inflammation and infection in the gums, surgery can remove the bacteria and infected tissue. Some common surgical procedures for treating periodontal disease include flap surgery, bone grafting, and soft tissue grafts. While surgery may be daunting, it can significantly improve oral health and prevent further damage to the gums and teeth.
Take some time to discuss with your dentist all available treatment options before deciding on what to do. You can improve your oral health by seeking appropriate treatment, including surgery if necessary.