Being diagnosed with periodontal disease can be scary. Periodontal disease does not have anything to do with the health of your teeth, so you may have healthy, cavity-free teeth and still have periodontal disease. It is important to get regular dental check-ups so that you can find out if you have gum disease in early stages, when it is still reversible.
If you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 47 percent of American adults over the age of 30 have periodontal disease. While the disease is common, it can have negative consequences for health and well being. It is important to take steps to manage the disease in order to reduce the impact on your life.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The most common symptom of periodontal disease is bleeding from the gums when brushing and flossing. The gums and teeth may hurt or be very sensitive to cold and heat. The gums may also be soft and swollen and may begin to pull away from the teeth. Over time, the teeth may begin to feel loose and visibly shift. If any of these symptoms is present, it is important to have a dentist examine your teeth.
Effects of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is the leading reason for tooth loss in adults. If left untreated, periodontal disease may cause the bone in the jaw to begin to deteriorate. Bacteria from the mouth may also enter the bloodstream and circulate through the body, causing other health issues. This can put patients at higher risk for strokes, heart attacks, and diabetes.
Managing Periodontal Disease
When periodontal disease is diagnosed, it is irreversible. Periodontal disease is more severe than milder forms of gum disease, such as gingivitis. While it may not be possible to reverse the disease completely, it may be possible to improve the health of the gums and prevent the disease from progressing and causing other problems. Both home care and professional treatment is needed to effectively manage periodontal disease.
The professional treatment that is needed to manage periodontal disease may vary depending on the severity of the disease. In earlier stages, it may be possible to use scaling and root planning to remove calculus deposits from the crown of the tooth and the gums. An antibiotic may be given after this procedure if there is an infection present.
If gum disease is advanced, periodontal surgery may be necessary. During this surgery, the gum tissue is folded back so that the bacteria and calculus can be removed from the pockets underneath the teeth. If needed, bone grafts may be done and bone or gum tissue may be reshaped.
Home dental care is important for treatment of periodontal disease to be effective. Patients should brush at least twice per day and floss at least once per day. A dentist approved mouthwash may also be used to kill bacteria and help mitigate the effects of the disease.