Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a chronic and potentially serious condition that affects more than 50 percent of Americans age 30 and older. It is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults and has been linked to an array of serious health problems. That is why we, at Dental Care of North Carolina, place emphasis on the prevention, treatment, and management of periodontal disease. We are all about maintaining the long-term oral and overall health of our valued patients.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is common but preventable. It is a potentially serious gum infection that, without treatment, can progress and begin to slowly and progressively destroy the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. Periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease, can cause teeth to loosen, which often leads to tooth loss.
What Are the Causes of Periodontal Disease?
It all starts with plaque, a sticky film that continuously forms on the teeth due to starches and sugars interacting with bacteria naturally found in the mouth. If not removed through regular brushing and flossing, plaque hardens under the gumline into tartar, which only a dental professional can remove. The longer the plaque and tartar are left on your teeth, the more damage your oral health sustains.
The presence of plaque and tartar can cause gingivitis, the mildest stage of gum disease. The condition develops due to the irritation and inflammation of the gingiva, which is gum tissue around the base of the teeth. Professional dental cleanings and proper oral care at home can usually reverse the condition.
Ongoing gum inflammation can progress to periodontitis, Which eventually causes pockets to develop between the gum and teeth that are filled with plaque, tartar, and bacteria. If left untreated, these deep infections can wreak havoc on your oral health. Chronic inflammation of the gums can also pose a strain on your immune system, which can result in a host of health conditions.
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease often progresses painlessly without apparent symptoms. However, there are often subtle warning signs. These include red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, receding gums, the formation of pockets between the gums and teeth, loose teeth, and changes in how the teeth fit together when biting down.
Even if you don’t experience any symptoms, you may still have gum disease. That is why it’s essential to keep up with your routine dental exams and cleanings. During your visits, we will be able to identify and address any condition as it develops when it is easiest to treat.
What Are the Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease?
Factors that can increase your risk of periodontitis include poor oral hygiene practices, the use of tobacco products, hormonal changes related to pregnancy or menopause, obesity, poor nutrition, and genetics. Certain medications that cause dry mouth can also increase the risk of gum disease, as can conditions that cause decreased immunity and diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
What Are the Complications of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease not only impacts your oral health but can also be detrimental to your overall health. The bacteria responsible for periodontal disease can enter the bloodstream through the gum tissue, affecting other parts of the body. Studies have uncovered a potential connection between periodontal disease and health conditions, including problems controlling blood sugar in diabetes, respiratory disease, heart disease, stroke, and more.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
A deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing, is the first line of treatment for gum disease. This non-surgical procedure is often all that is needed to reverse gingivitis. Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces and beneath the gums. Root planing, on the other hand, entails smoothing out the root surfaces, which discourages further tartar and bacteria buildup and removes the bacterial byproducts that contribute to inflammation and delay the healing or reattachment of the gum tissue to the tooth surfaces.
In some cases, we may recommend topical or oral antibiotics to help control the bacterial infection. Topical antibiotics include mouth rinses or gels containing antibiotics placed in the spaces between the gums and teeth, or into the deep pockets after a professional cleaning. Oral antibiotics may be required to eliminate the bacteria entirely.
Advanced periodontitis that is not responsive to deep cleaning and antibiotics may require surgical intervention. Your trusted team at Dental Care of North Carolina will exhaust every possible conservative treatment before resorting to surgery.
What Is Periodontal Maintenance?
After treatment, you will require periodontal maintenance appointments every three months to achieve lifelong periodontal health. Your visits will include professional teeth cleaning, the evaluation of your gum tissue health, and the measurement of your pocket depth and gum recession. We will also include a home oral hygiene regimen. Our goal is to manage your condition and maintain the health of your gums and bone.
How Can You Prevent Periodontal Disease?
The best and most effective way to prevent gum disease is to follow a good oral hygiene program. That involves brushing your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day and flossing daily. Maintaining proper oral hygiene practices prevents the development of an environment favorable to periodontal disease-causing bacteria.
Another important way to safeguard your oral health is to maintain regular dental exams and cleanings every six months. We may recommend more frequent dental appointments if you have risk factors that increase your chances of developing periodontal disease.
Quality Periodontal Care in Morrisville and Greensboro
Contact Dental Care of North Carolina to learn more about the prevention, treatment, and management of gum disease. Our team is committed to providing quality preventive dentistry services and care that exceed your expectations. We are all about ensuring our valued patients enjoy long-term healthy smiles. Call us and schedule your appointment today!