Periodontal disease, better known as gum disease, is a common oral health condition. It occurs when the teeth are not kept clean through effective brushing and flossing habits as well as regular dental care. Certain health conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune issues can increase your risk of developing gum disease. Certain habits like smoking can also increase your risk of gum infection.
What is periodontal disease? How do you prevent it? Here are some tips for avoiding gum disease and the negative effects it has on your dental and oral health.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the periodontal tissues, or the gums as it is more commonly known. Your gums are the soft pink tissues that aid in the support of your teeth along with the bone tissue around the teeth. When plaque (soft bacterial accumulation) and calculus (“hardened” bacteria deposits) develop on your teeth, the bacteria can become aggressive enough to create infection which eats away at the support of the teeth. This is known as periodontal disease.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is typically recognized by the following symptoms:
- Red or swollen gum tissue
- Bleeding gums
- Abscesses on the gum tissue (white bumps that indicate infection)
- Bad breath
- Receding gums (gum tissue pulling away from the teeth)
- Loose teeth
- Dislodged teeth
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist to schedule an evaluation. Although the above are more obvious, many times, the gum infections do not create obvious discomfort and progress quietly. This is especially evident with smoking habits.
Tips To Prevent Periodontal Disease
There are many ways to prevent periodontal disease, including:
- Brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day can reduce the chances of developing gum disease. Brushing removes plaque from your teeth before it hardens into calculus.
- Floss your teeth. Flossing your teeth one to two times a day removes plaque from between your teeth. Toothbrushing does not effectively clean the space between your teeth. If you only brush, half of your tooth remains full of bacteria.
- Go to the dentist regularly. Going to the dentist every 6 months for teeth cleanings and oral exams helps to prevent gum disease. Your dentist can remove the plaque that is left on your teeth after brushing and flossing and detect the early signs of gum disease.
- Limit sugary foods and beverages. Reducing your sugar intake can reduce the risk of gum disease and cavities. Sugar feeds bacteria.
- Contact your dentist at the first sign or symptom. If you notice red, swollen, or bleeding gums, contact your dentist right away. Gum disease is easier to treat in the early stages.
How is Periodontal Disease Treated?
If you do have gum disease, it can be treated with a deep cleaning procedure that consists of two parts:
- Scaling. Scaling is the process of removing calculus (hardened plaque) from the teeth and roots under the gumline.
- Root planing. Root planing involves smoothing out the surface of the roots so that the gum tissue can attach more firmly without spaces where plaque can accumulate.
Once this active treatment is performed, the gums and support will need to be reassessed to see if the issues have resolved or if additional active treatment is required. Many times, once the gum infections are under control, a 3 month cleaning program is needed to maintain the gains made.
Who Treats Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease can be treated by your dentist. However, in more advanced cases, you may be referred to a periodontist. A periodontist specializes in treatment of the support structures for the teeth, including the gum tissue. Regular periodontal treatment may be needed to treat cases of gum disease that have progressed or keep recurring.
Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry
If you have noticed signs of gum disease in yourself or a family member, Progressive Periodontics & Implant Dentistry can provide treatment. We use advanced technology to treat gum disease and prevent it from recurring. We can also repair the damage caused by chronic gum disease to restore the health of your teeth, gums, and jaw.
Contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.