Have you been diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease? Millions of people in the U.S. currently have some form of gum disease, which can range from gingivitis to a more serious form involving damage to the soft tissues and bone called Periodontitis.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth along with other particles that form a “plaque” layer on teeth that is sticky. Regular brushing and flossing helps remove plaque; however, the plaque that is not removed can calcify or harden and form a layer called “calculus” sometimes referred to as “tartar” that brushing cannot remove. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove calculus.
Who gets gum disease and why?
Both men and women can develop gum disease. The most common causes of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Other factors can however increase the likelihood of developing this disease:
2) Diseases like diabetes, cancer and AIDS
3) The use of some medications
4) Genetic susceptibility
Gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease that can easily be treated and reversed with regular dental cleanings and proper oral hygiene care at home. Gingivitis can present itself as bacterial inflammation of the gums resulting in redness, some swelling and bleeding. Gingivitis does not involve any loss of bone or soft tissue needed.
When gingivitis is left untreated, bacteria continues to build and damage the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth resulting in “Periodontitis” or inflammation of the hard tissues. In periodontitis the bacterial damage results in periodontal pockets that can become infected and can thus result in bone and connective tissue loss which ultimately lead to tooth mobility and tooth loss. Thus it is very important to treat this condition as soon as possible to prevent the loss of teeth.
Do I have gum disease?
Symptoms of gum disease include:
Red or swollen gums, Receding gums or longer appearing teeth, Bad breath that won’t go away, Sensitive teeth, Painful chewing, Tender or bleeding gums, Loose teeth
How can I treat it?
The first step is to see your dentist and identify what stage of gum disease you have. You will first need to receive a proper cleaning. The most common first stage treatment is a Deep Cleaning or Scaling and Root Planing. This involves the removal of all the plaque and calculus deposits both above and below the gumline.
ARESTIN® is an antibiotic treatment for periodontal disease that may be recommended as an add-on therapy to provide direct antibiotic into the pocket where the bacteria resides to help remove the bacteria and aid in the healing of the periodontal pocket.
Antibacterial rinses such as Chlorhexidine may also be recommended for home use to aid in the healing process.
Treatment results depend on a variety of factors, including how far the disease has progressed, how well the patient keeps up with oral care at home, and certain risk factors, such as smoking, which may lower the chances of success.
Patients with more advanced cases of periodontal disease may be referred to a Periodontist (Gum Specialist) for further evaluation and treatment that may include gum and/or bone surgeries.