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Periodontal disease, or gum disease as it’s known more commonly, is a serious infection of the gums. It starts as a buildup of excess plaque – an opaque film on the teeth that hardens to form tartar. As tartar accumulates, it creates openings for the collection of bacteria which, if allowed to develop long enough, can begin to attack the soft tissue around the gums and below the gum line.
Left untreated, periodontal disease can become gingivitis, which can develop into periodontitis and ultimately destroy the tissue surrounding your teeth and the bone that holds your teeth in place.
Periodontal (Gum) Disease is incredibly common, affecting roughly 47% of adults over 30 years old in the United States according to the CDC. It affects so many because it is practically invisible; except for bad breath and gums that bleed, there are very few early warning signals to let you know that something is wrong. The disease advances silently, and often without any pain initially, going undetected or misdiagnosed as halitosis or poor hygiene habits until it advances to gingivitis. From there, unfortunately, tooth loss is the most obvious indicator of gum disease.
Scientific research has discovered a link between gum disease and other serious medical conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. It also poses an increased risk of complications for pregnant women. When your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened.
As with many other serious health conditions, the best treatment for periodontal disease is prevention. Regular dental exams can help reduce the risk of periodontal disease and, should it develop, stop the spread of the infection before it becomes gingivitis. You can also help prevent damage by keeping up good oral hygiene habits at home; brush your teeth twice every day, floss regularly to remove hard-to-reach bacteria, and rinse with a cleansing mouthwash.
If you do develop periodontal disease, there are treatment options available to you. Scaling and root planing – a special cleaning procedure often called periodontal cleaning which involves deep cleaning above and below the gumline and the smoothing of dental roots to promote reattachment – can help to remove the plaque and tartar that are harboring the infection and allow the inflamed pockets in the gums to heal and shrink. Your dentist can also recommend a round of antibiotics and pain medication to help reduce your discomfort during treatment and prevent the disease from returning.
If it is serious enough, then your dentist may recommend surgery. In the past, fear of painful dental surgery has kept people with gum disease from seeking the care they need. Thankfully, with modern advances in dental surgery, you no longer need to worry about a painful procedure; many offices (including ours) offer better sedative options and top-of-the-line surgical techniques that reduce the pain experienced during recovery.
The team at Pearly Smile Dental Studio is ready to help you take control of your dental health. Schedule an appointment today for experienced care to treat periodontal disease and prevent further complications