PERIODONTAL DISEASE FACTS:
Periodontal disease is the most common bacterial infection in adults, affecting more than 35.7 million Americans.
Periodontal disease is the #1 cause of adult tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria. In the more serious form of periodontal disease called periodontitis, the gums pull away from the tooth and supporting gum tissues are destroyed. Bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or eventually fall out. According to the American Academy Of Periodontology, as much as 90% of Americans have gum disease (“gingivitis”), and 50% of Americans over the age of 30 have advanced periodontal disease. Several research studies have suggested that periodontal disease is connected to a variety of other diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists believe that inflammation may be the basis for the link between these systemic diseases.
- Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
- Pregnancy. Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
- Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
- Other illnesses and their treatments. Diseases such as AIDS and its treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums, as can treatments for cancer.
- Medications. There are hundreds of prescription and over the counter medications that can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. And some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue; this can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
- Genetic susceptibility. Some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others.
HOW IS GUM DISEASE TREATED?
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. The doctor may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve treatment outcome.
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing) is the first stage of treatment to fight periodontal disease. The dental hygienist removes all plaque and tarter that causes the inflammatory process. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease. This procedure helps gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink, which makes it easier to keep teeth clean and control the disease. If this treatment isn’t effective in eliminating pockets, or the disease is advanced a referral to a periodontist will be given.
We take this disease very seriously and screen all of our patients annually. Education is the key to prevention. Early diagnosis and treatment can help keep teeth and gums happy and healthy for many years.
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