Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a condition that affects your gums and the bone that holds your teeth in place. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) estimates that nearly 80% of American adults suffer from some level of periodontal disease.
Although most cases are mild to moderate, gum disease can lead to tooth loss and even cause systemic infections like heart disease.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a general term that refers to inflammatory conditions of the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth.
Treatment for periodontal disease varies depending on the severity of your case. The most commonly used treatment options include scaling and root planing, in which plaque is removed with special instruments and tools. In some cases, gum tissue may be removed to improve access to problem areas.
Antibiotics may be prescribed to help treat inflammation caused by bacteria in the mouth. Your dentist will be able to determine if antibiotics are necessary and monitor your progress during treatment.
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Signs and symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Red, puffy or swollen gums.
- Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth or floss.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Pain when chewing or biting.
- Loose teeth, especially around the gum line.
- A change in how your teeth fit together when you bite.
Overview of Diagnostics and Treatment for Periodontal Disease
Treatment for periodontal disease consists of removing infected tissue and plaque from around the teeth, thorough oral hygiene to prevent the condition from returning, and surgery or tooth extraction in more severe cases.
Periodontal disease may be detected through a visual exam using a probe, which measures pocket depths around teeth. The probe will reveal bleeding gums in more advanced cases of periodontal disease.
In the early stages, periodontal disease can be treated with scaling, root planing, and some times antibiotics. A dentist can also prescribe special products for you to use at home to help prevent further buildup of tartar.
If left untreated, the disease often progresses until it has destroyed the bone supporting the teeth, leading to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. At this point, treatment may involve procedures to save or rebuild the jawbone or gums to save your teeth or allow placement of dental implants.
In addition to dental pain and discomfort, periodontal disease can also result in serious medical problems such as heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, diabetes mellitus type 2, and pneumonia (due to aspiration of food particles).
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
These are a few ways you can help prevent gum disease:
- Brush and floss regularly. Brushing your teeth twice a day is helpful, but it's not enough to maintain good oral health.
- Flossing once a day before bedtime removes plaque from between your teeth, where a brush can't reach.
- Visit the dentist regularly for cleanings to remove plaque build-up.
- Don't smoke or chew tobacco products. Smoking accelerates gum disease by causing gum tissues to recede, exposing more of your teeth to the harmful substances in tobacco products.
Learn More About Periodontal Disease
If you have symptoms of gum disease, please make an appointment for evaluation and treatment. Delaying treatment could lead to more advanced and costly treatment options down the road. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a consultation at our offices in Middletown or New Britain, CT.