Most people think that cavities are the biggest problem that can affect their teeth. While cavities are extremely common, there is another prevalent condition that many people are unaware of – periodontal disease also known as periodontitis. Periodontal disease is a gum disease that damages the gums as well as the bone that supports your teeth. Periodontal disease is largely preventable as it is usually a result of poor oral hygiene. If the teeth are not brushed and flossed correctly, a build-up of plaque and tartar accumulates on the teeth, this enables the bacteria found in plaque to migrate below the gums and triggers the onset of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is much more harmful than many people realize and can have serious consequences for both your oral and general health. The progressive nature of the periodontal disease means that symptoms often develop slowly. However, without treatment, they will get increasingly more severe. Some of the effects that periodontal disease can have on your oral health include:
Red, swollen and inflamed gums
A bad taste in your mouth
Teeth falling out
Infection of the gum tissue
That’s not all though. Studies have also found links between patients with moderate to severe periodontal disease and chronic health issues including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver and kidney problems, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, and even some forms of cancer. This is thought to be because the bacteria that is found in the gums in patients with periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream and travels around the body to vital organs and systems.
Fortunately, there are some very effective treatments that can prevent your periodontal disease from worsening and even reverse the effects that you are experiencing. Early on in the disease progression, your dentist may recommend a treatment known as scaling and root planing.
Scaling and root planning is a two-step procedure that will require more than one visit to your dentist. The aim of scaling and root planing is to remove all plaque and tartar attached to your teeth both above and below the gum line. It is usually performed with a topical or local anesthetic to help minimize any discomfort that you might otherwise experience. If you are particularly anxious or nervous, you should discuss this with your doctor and you may be offered oral or nitrous oxide sedation.
In the first stage of the treatment, your dentist will use an ultrasonic scaler to remove the plaque and tartar from the surface of the teeth and underneath the gumline. Most dentists now use ultrasonic scalers since they are more efficient and can remove particles that can’t be loosened by a hand instrument.
The second stage of treatment is root planing which involves scaling the root surface in order to smooth out any rough areas. This helps to prevent plaque and tartar from sticking to the tooth below the gumline. This has been proven to help reduce inflammation of the gum tissues so that your gums can heal and reattach themselves to your teeth, sealing the area against further bacteria invasion.
It will take 4-6 weeks for the healing process to occur. After which, you will return to your dentist for a re-evaluation to determine the outcome of your treatment. If healing has occurred to your dentist’s standards, you will be placed on a periodontal maintenance regimen. This means that you will be seeing your dentist every 3-4 months for cleanings during which they will monitor the periodontal disease as well as clean above and below your gumline as needed to help prevent the disease symptoms from re-occurring. This is important to help prevent the disease from progressing, as that could require scaling and root planning to be completed again.
If adequate healing has not occurred after the scaling and root planning treatment, or active periodontal disease still exists, you will be referred to a periodontist. A periodontist is a specialist of periodontal disease and is equipped to treat recurrent periodontal disease, as well as more severe cases through various other procedures.
If you would like to find out more about periodontal disease and the treatments that are available, our friendly and knowledgeable dental team would be delighted to help. Please contact our office in Winter Garden, FL for more information.