Why Periodontal Care is Important
Periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss among adults in the U.S. It damages the gums and other structures essential to support teeth. This makes periodontal care crucial to protect oral health as well as maintain your smile. When diagnosed early, periodontal disease can be controlled and, in some cases, reversed by gum disease treatments such as deep dental cleanings and regular periodontal maintenance.
The importance of periodontal care is further underlined by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which report that half the U.S. adult population have gum disease, with the risk of destruction of gum and bone tissue and periodontal ligaments, and subsequent loss of teeth. Furthermore, research suggests that spread of infection from periodontal disease can trigger inflammation in other areas of the body, increasing the risk of illnesses such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes.
How is Periodontal Disease Treated?
Non-surgical solutions are typically effective during the initial stages of periodontal disease, and the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) insists that periodontal treatment should be carried out in the least invasive way possible. At your Coeur d’Alene dentist CDA Dental, treatment for the early stages of periodontal disease focuses on an initial deep dental cleaning known as scaling and root planing, along with a course of antibiotics to fight infection.
Scaling and Root Planing
The scaling procedure is carried out by our dental hygienists or dentists in Coeur d’Alene using special instruments to remove plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) around teeth and below the gum line. Root planing evens out rough areas on teeth to eliminate bacterial deposits. This strengthens the gums so they’re better able to provide support for teeth. Finally, your teeth are polished to remove stains and create a smooth surface that bacteria find difficult to cling on to.
In some cases, orthodontic treatment – traditional braces or Invisalign clear aligners – is necessary to correct an irregular bite that’s increasing the risk of gum disease.
Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
In severe cases, surgery may be required to treat periodontitis. Surgical treatments include:
- Gingival flap surgery – also called pocket reduction surgery – to fold back gum tissue to remove underlying bacteria.
- Bone or soft tissue graft to promote regrowth.
What is Periodontal Maintenance?
Periodontal maintenance is similar to the routine dental cleanings you get alongside regular dental exams. However, periodontal maintenance usually requires more appointments – every three or four months instead of twice a year. And while routine cleanings are part of preventive oral healthcare, periodontal maintenance deals with problems that already exist.
Periodontal maintenance also includes ongoing root planing as well as scaling and polishing. If any infection or inflammation is present in gum pockets, the dental hygienist will flush the area with antiseptic. Successful control of gum disease requires periodontal maintenance on a long-term basis, possibly for life. Many dental insurance plans will cover the cost of two periodontal maintenance appointments a year.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease – or periodontitis – starts as gingivitis. The condition occurs when the gums become inflamed as the immune system attacks gum infection caused by build-up of bacteria-laden plaque on and around the teeth. Gingivitis can get worse without treatment, becoming full-blown periodontal disease. Advanced periodontitis can threaten oral bone structure and destroy teeth.
Although harmful bacteria in the mouth are the main cause of periodontal disease, other factors can increase the risk of developing gum disease or aggravating an existing gum problem. These include:
- Crowded or misaligned teeth.
- Dry mouth (xerostomia) as the result of taking certain medications.
- Medical conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
Complications of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease can damage your overall health as well as your gums. When the health of your gums is compromised by disease, infection can spread via the bloodstream to other areas of the body, including vital organs like the heart. Heart disease – cardiovascular disease – occurs when blood vessels narrow or become completely blocked, which can result in a heart attack or stroke. Numerous studies have shown that people with periodontal disease have higher rates of cardiovascular issues. Gum disease can also increase the risk of or aggravate medical conditions such as diabetes, lung infections, and stroke, and has also been associated with premature birth.
Can Periodontal Disease Be Prevented?
Although gum disease is commonplace, in many cases it’s preventable with measures such as:
- Good oral hygiene – brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily.
- Routine dental cleanings or periodontal maintenance – scale and polish or scaling, root planing, and polishing.
- Healthy diet – limiting sugary or starchy foods and drinks.
- Drinking plenty of water to rinse away oral bacteria.
- Avoiding alcohol.
- Quitting smoking.
The American Dental Association (ADA) says regular dental exams are imperative to detect the initial stages of periodontal disease before it gets worse, and treatment becomes more difficult. And the American Academy of Periodontology advises all adults to get a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) every 12 months.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
You may have periodontal disease without realizing there’s a problem. Periodontitis is known as a silent disease – like high blood pressure – because it often has no symptoms, even in advanced stages of the disease.
When symptoms of periodontitis do occur, they can include:
- Bleeding gums when you clean your teeth or eat.
- Gums changing from firm and pink to soft and red.
- Swollen or puffy gums.
- Pain when eating.
- Teeth appearing to be longer because of gum recession.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Loose teeth.
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis).
- Pus between the teeth and gum.
- Mouth sores.
- Altered bite function.
If you suspect you may have gum disease, timely diagnosis and treatment will give you the best chance of a successful outcome with periodontal care such as minimally invasive gum disease treatment and antibiotics. Your dentist in Coeur d’Alene will also be able to advise you on the best oral hygiene techniques and other measures to control gum disease.
Call CDA Dental at (208) 667-7461 or get in touch online to find out whether you need periodontal care to protect your oral health and overall wellbeing.
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