It's difficult to overstate how important your oral health is for your well-being because multiple conditions can negatively impact your teeth, gums, and mouth. However, periodontal disease remains one of the foremost concerns, affecting roughly two in five adults aged 30 and older per year. The oral care professionals at Distinctive Dental Care understand this disorder and how to combat it, which is why this article will inform you of what it entails, and what treatments are available.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis or gum disease, is an infection in the tissue of your gums. It can damage the alveolar bone and other structures that support your teeth if it progresses over time, leading to a greater prevalence of dental emergencies. Tooth loss commonly occurs due to the weakening of these periodontal structures.
As you eat and drink, food particles remain attached to your teeth and gums. Without proper oral care, these particles will eventually form a film of bacteria on your teeth that develops into plaque. In turn, plaque bacteria can spread into your gums, where they can cause an inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Periodontitis is the result of unchecked gingivitis advancing from inflammation to an infection.
Though a lack of oral hygiene is the leading cause of periodontal disease, other risk factors can contribute to this oral condition's development, including:
Smoking and tobacco use: Tobacco can weaken the immune system, which makes it more difficult for your gums to fight infections and increases the risk of periodontitis.
Medical conditions: Some adverse health conditions, such as diabetes and certain autoimmune diseases, can reduce the body's ability to manage bacteria, opening the door for infections like periodontitis.
Changes in hormones: Pregnancy, menopause, menstruation, and other bodily changes can cause hormonal fluctuations that will make your gums more sensitive and prone to infection.
Genetics: Certain individuals are genetically predisposed to periodontal disease, making them more likely to develop the condition even with regular oral hygiene.
Medications: Some medications, such as antihistamines and cancer medications, have oral side effects like dry mouth that increase the risk of periodontal disease.
The Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Paying close attention to your oral health is vital because periodontal disease can develop slowly, with its symptoms going unnoticed or deemed unremarkable for a long time. However, a lack of adequate care will only make the condition worse. So, you'll need to recognize the signs and symptoms of periodontitis to give yourself the best chance for effective treatment.
The most common symptoms of gum disease include:
Red or swollen gums
Persistent bad breath, or halitosis
Increased tooth sensitivity
If you notice any of these symptoms, no matter how mild or infrequent, you should visit an oral health professional as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Because periodontal disease can vary from mild gingivitis to more advanced periodontitis, the treatment you receive will depend on the extent of the disorder. To start, if an oral care professional suspects that you have periodontal disease, they will need to assess the severity of the condition to form a treatment plan. They will go over your medical history to determine whether any external factors are increasing your risk, before physically inspecting your teeth and gums. In some cases, they will measure the depth of the pockets between your gums and teeth, or even give you a dental x-ray.
To treat mild periodontal disease in the early stages, your dentist can perform a routine deep cleaning. Part of this process involves using a tool called a dental scaler to physically remove plaque above and below the gumline. Afterward, you'll receive recommendations on improving your oral hygiene to prevent the condition from progressing any further, including using antibacterial mouthwash. Your dentist may even prescribe antibiotics to help eliminate bacteria.
Once periodontal disease advances past a certain point, it may become necessary to look at surgical treatment options. These options may involve gum pocket reduction combined with regenerative surgical techniques for deep bone defects. Common surgical treatments aim to eliminate the room for bacteria, plaque, and tartar to fester by removing the pockets of space between the teeth and the bone.
Following treatment, your dentist will plan to follow up with you with more frequent checkups throughout the year. They will also detail the oral health care practices you'll need to follow to prevent the disease from reoccurring. You'll want to clean your teeth carefully and thoroughly, getting into the hard-to-reach spots. Using mouthwash and flossing regularly helps flush out bacteria from those pockets where they like to grow unnoticed.
Give Your Teeth and Gums the Care They Deserve
Routine oral hygiene can play a significant role in reducing the risk of gum disease, but knowing how to properly care for your teeth and gums makes a huge difference. Dr. Syed and the team at Distinctive Dental Care focus on patient education, sharing their decades of experience in the oral health field with everyone who steps into their offices. So please don't hesitate to contact us and book an appointment.