The terms periodontal disease and gum disease are often used interchangeably. Both phrases refer to two types of gum problems. The first is Gingivitis which is gum inflammation. The second is Periodontitis which involves bone and ligament loss inside the gums which can result in loss of teeth. Both conditions are detrimental for oral health, but also have far reaching effects on the body, even being responsible for certain forms of cardiovascular disease. The good news is that periodontal disease can be reversed.
How do you know if you have periodontal disease? Your dentist is in the best position to diagnose the condition, and sticking to regular cleanings will allow your practitioner to catch the disease before it progresses. You can also tell at home, often when brushing or flossing. Diseased gums are quite tender and are more likely to bleed. Darker red or swollen gums are tell-tale signs of Gingivitis. What can your dentist do to help?
The treatment will depend on how severe the condition is. A professional cleaning will remove all of tartar and plaque that are causing the irritation. Then you will need to do your part at home by brushing and flossing regularly. Some who are unfamiliar with proper brushing techniques can benefit from using an electric toothbrush which will provide the right brushing motion for you. If you find using floss difficult, floss pics may help you to stay regular.
What if your condition has progressed? If you are experiencing Periodontitis, additional scaling on the part of the dentist may be necessary. Medication may also be provided. If you will need to continue applying medication at home, you will be given instruction on how to do so properly. Finally, don’t wait another 6 months to see your dentist. If the condition is serious, your dentist will want you back in about 4 weeks to make sure you have kept up with the routine and are making progress in fighting the disease.
In the worst case scenarios, your dentist may refer you to a periodontist who specializes in treating conditions of the supporting structures of the teeth. Surgery can be used to combat deep gingival pockets and sure up the bone structure. Sometimes a tooth or two needs to be sacrificed to save the rest.
Yes, periodontal disease is treatable. Early detection is the key to a full and speedy recovery. It is also vital to follow the instructions received by your dentist closely. Of course, the best way to fight periodontal disease is to avoid it in the first place through regular checkups and a good oral care routine at home.