What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal gum disease is a relatively common infection of the tissues that surround your teeth. Not only can it impact your gums, but if left untreated for a more extended period of time, it can also affect the underlying bone. This can lead to a variety of health concerns over time. The cause of the disease is associated with bacteria found in dental plaque, the sticky substance that forms on teeth. Without proper oral hygiene, the buildup of plaque can lead to an infection, which in turn impacts the teeth.
What are the signs of periodontal disease?
In the earliest stages of periodontal gum disease, there may be few to no symptoms. However, one of the most common symptoms is bleeding gums. Research indicates that half of the US population over 30 years old suffer from bleeding gums. While this is incredibly common, it does not mean that it is an acceptable occurrence. If you regularly experience bleeding gums, then you should contact your dentist right away as this could be a sign of early-stage periodontal gum disease.
Other signs to watch out for:
- Excessive bad breath
- Changes in the way that your teeth fit together
- Red or swollen gums
- Gums that have pulled away from teeth
- Changes in how dentures fit
- Teeth that are loose
What are the risk factors for periodontal disease?
While periodontal gum disease can impact anybody, there are a few factors that may increase the risk. Of course, poor oral hygiene can certainly be a factor since the root of the problem comes from a buildup of plaque. People should take care to brush and floss two times per day. Additionally, smoking or chewing tobacco may also put your gums at risk. Certain medications may also impact your teeth and may require that you brush and floss even more. Other factors that may increase the risk are pregnancy, diabetes, and even genetics.
How to Prevent Periodontal Gum Disease
Of course, nobody wants to worry about infections that can lead to loose teeth and deteriorated bones. Fortunately, there are several things people can do to be diligent about their oral health. First, you should establish a quality hygiene routine. This process should include brushing and flossing at least twice per day. You can go a few steps further by incorporating mouthwash, water picks, and making sure that you have a fresh toothbrush every three months.
Untreated Periodontal Gum Disease
The early signs of periodontal disease may not seem very serious. However, you should keep in mind that untreated gum disease can lead to numerous oral health problems, including infections, missing teeth, and bone loss.
In addition to regular home care, you should also see your dentist regularly. Not only will this allow for professional cleaning, but it will also be an opportunity for your dentist to identify early warning signs. While it is suggested to visit your dentist every 6-12 months, you may want to do so more often if you have any of the above-mentioned risk factors.
Deep Dental Cleanings for Periodontal Disease
Prior to having your teeth cleaned, your hygienist will perform a periodontal exam which will determine if you have healthy gums or if there is gum disease present. In cases where the gums are healthy, we will perform a routine cleaning. When there is gum disease present a deep cleaning is typically recommended by your dentist in order to avoid the progression of further infection as well as tooth decay and loss. A deep cleaning is often the most effective way to treat gum disease, which can wreak havoc on the bone structure that supports your teeth and inflammation of the gums themselves, both of which can be quite painful.
What can I expect during deep cleanings?
Typically, the dentist will examine your mouth and find any dental issues. The hygienist will prepare your mouth for the deep cleaning, which may involve using a topical anesthetic in cases where there will be extensive root planing or scaling. The number of visits to complete the process may vary depending on the level of treatment actually needed. Your hygienist will inform you of your specific treatment plan in advance. Deep cleaning commonly includes scaling (to remove the build-up of plaque and calculus) and root planing (to smooth roots).
What is the difference between Regular cleanings vs. Deep cleanings?
Regular cleanings are typically recommended for patients who have healthy gums and very little tartar build-up. A deep cleaning is recommended for patients who have a varying degree of infection present in the gums and connecting bone. Though cleaning does take place during a deep cleaning, of course, the process will also involve the planning of the root, in order to make it smooth and the removal of plaque and tartar that has accumulated under the gum line. Thus, you will still have the tartar and plaque build-up removed from the surface of your teeth during a deep cleaning, but will also have any rough tooth or root edges planed away as well.
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