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Periodontal (Gum) Disease, also known as Gingivitis and Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease that affects the soft and hard structures that support the teeth.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. If it is left untreated the disease will gradually damage and destroy the support structures of your teeth, i.e. your gums and jawbone. More than 50% Americans will be diagnosed with/or suffer symptoms related to Periodontal disease by age 45.
Periodontal Disease typically begins with poor dental hygiene habits. Plaque build up on the teeth can harbor harmful bacteria. This bacteria can multiply and create bigger problems by attacking the gums. This is the beginning stage of the infection. Common symptoms for Periodontal disease include, swelling and reddening of the gums, and bleeding easily. However, Periodontal disease could still be occurring, even without the presence of these symptoms. Pain is another symptom that can be associated with this infectious disease but most likely only appears when the disease has progressed and become severe enough to cause periodontal abscesses.
The initial stage of periodontal disease is called Gingivitis and can usually be totally reversed. If the disease is left untreated and continues to progress, the supporting gum tissues will be damaged. Further damage can cause the support structures of the teeth to fail and cause the loss of teeth. When the infection progresses to this stage it is now called Periodontitis, also known as Pyorrhea. This stage can cause irreversible damage to your teeth, gums, and jaw. In severe cases, this disease can even negatively affect your ability to chew and speak.
Wondering if you’re at risk for gum disease? Visit the American Academy of Periodontology for a list of risk factors and more gum disease related information.
Periodontal Disease doesn’t happen immediately. For some people the disease can be a surprise, but it is most likely due to ignoring routine oral hygiene care. There are a few indicators that your dentist looks for to see if you are at risk or experiencing symptoms of Periodontal Disease.
During regular scheduled and routine dental appointments, your dentist will measure the gum line directly below your teeth and probe down to the bone. This is called Probing Depth. It measures to see if your gums and bone are at healthy levels. The probing depth around your teeth is the major indicator for measuring your teeth for risk of periodontal infection.
By using a special instrument called a periodontal probe, your dentist or dental hygienist measures the depth of the spaces between your gums and teeth. This space is called the periodontal pocket. The probing depth indicates whether or not you have healthy or unhealthy gums and bone. If the surrounding areas of the teeth are healthy then the probe will indicate typically 2-3 mm of depth. If the probe measures further, it will indicate to your dentist that you are suffering a loss of gum tissue and possible bone loss.
Therefore, the higher the probing depth number the higher the risk for the disease to be present. Probing is also used to detect other problems around the root of the tooth such as bleeding, tartar, cracks, etc. Which means even if you don’t suffer symptoms of Periodontal Disease, a routine check up and proper oral hygiene is beneficial to you and your smile.
Dentists also use other information that may indicate Periodontal Disease. Other indicators include:
If you are experiencing these symptoms or showing signs of similar symptoms, you may be at risk for Periodontal Disease, contact your Dentist or Periodontal Professional to schedule an appointment.
For those patients that are suffering from Periodontal Disease there are several treatment options. After you receive a periodontal exam, your doctor will evaluate the several indicators that determine how severe the infection has progressed. The severity of your infection will help you and your doctor plan and discuss the proper treatments available. Some options for treating Periodontal disease include:
Our office and your regular dentist will work closely together to maximize the success of your treatment plan. Regular visits to your dentist are an important part of periodontal maintenance. If you have had periodontal disease treatment in our office, we usually begin an alternating periodontal cleaning schedule with your general dentist after two to three cleanings and a re-evaluation (periodic oral evaluation) in our office. If crowns and fillings are needed your dentist will provide them.
Our team is dedicated to finding the best and most conservative solutions for our patients. Our expert opinions and experiences ensure that we recommend the best possible option and limit surgical treatment to affected areas only when it is absolutely necessary.
Studies have shown a common link between Periodontal Disease and other General Health issues. Receiving Periodontal Treatment can lower your risk for other serious and life threatening health risks, such as Heart Attack, Stroke, Diabetes, Cancer, etc.
Other benefits of receiving treatment include:
Surgery is not necessary in all cases. In the early stages, Periodontal Disease can be treated and even reversed without surgery and by practicing proper dental hygiene and care. Surgical recommendations are based on the individual situation and severity of the condition. If your treatment requires the use of surgery, some patients are able to receive a Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP) as an easier alternative to conventional periodontal surgery. However, if the diagnosis requires further treatment, other surgical options will be discussed.
We take great pride in our philosophy, which is to treat as conservatively as possible to obtain the best solution possible. Make sure to ask about the best option for you.
Periodontal disease is a chronic and progressive infection. Some patients may not feel pain from the infection, but there are cases where pain is present. The infection can lead to loss of teeth and permanent bad breath. If untreated, the infection can spread to other teeth and damage/destroy more bone and gum tissue. The more the infection spreads, the increase of bone loss occurs. With enough bone loss patients could struggle with their ability to chew, speak, or smile. The longer the infection is left untreated the more difficult it will be to treat the disease and increase the likelihood of needing surgical treatment.
Eventually, you may experience a painful periodontal abscess and lose your teeth. It can even lead to further bone loss in the jaw. Replacing teeth with dental implants is a decent solution to this problem. However, dental implants require healthy gums and bone tissue to be properly anchored in the mouth. Delaying treatment could result in surgery to remove damaged and infected bone tissue. If severe bone loss occurs patients could experience a change in their facial construction. An untreated patient could show signs of their face starting to look collapsed/sunken in, and lose their natural jawline.
Additionally, untreated Periodontal disease can also increase the risk and likelihood of other health problems and systemic diseases such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer, etc.
THE BAD NEWS: In extreme cases, left untreated or undiagnosed, Periodontal Disease can cause tooth loss and possible bone loss in the jaw.
THE GOOD NEWS: Periodontal Treatment has had several advances in technology and technique over the last few decades. With expert experience and quality care the success rate for saving your teeth is higher than ever. Treatment increases your chances of keeping your natural teeth and smile. This is especially true with the advent of laser treatment for periodontal disease.
THE IMPORTANT NEWS: In order for your treatment to be as successful as possible, Time is a very important factor. If you are diagnosed with Periodontal Disease, it is important to start treatment as soon as possible. The earlier you can start the treatment process the better the chances for reversing and healing the affected areas.
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