All about periodontal disease

Author: Jeff Salmeri

bad breathAccording to the National Institutes of Health, 80% of adults in the United States are affected by some form of periodontal disease. Most people don't even realize they have this problem, dismissing it as ordinary gingivitis.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

The most common cause of periodontal disease is the buildup of dental plaque due to oral bacteria. As the plaque accumulates on the surface of the teeth, as well as in the crevices in between the teeth, toxins are released in the mouth, causing irritation and infection in the gums.

What are the Signs of Periodontal Disease?

Typical signs of periodontal disease include swollen and bleeding gums, bad breath that won’t go away even after using mouthwash, and loose or sensitive teeth. Sometimes, you may also experience pain while chewing your food or while brushing your teeth. In the early stages of the disease, you might notice blood in your spit after brushing your teeth. Since there is still no pain at this point, most people ignore this and do not consult with their dentists. Unfortunately, this is already a sign that there is a problem. Set up an appointment with the dentist as soon as possible.

What are the Treatment Options?

Before any treatment can be given, your dentist will check to see whether you do have periodontal disease or not. Your dentist will examine your gums for the presence of periodontal pockets and he or she may even order an X-ray to check for bone loss. Mild to moderate cases can be treated by a regular dentist but if your case is quite advanced, you may have to see a periodontist for proper treatment.

Generally, the treatment procedure begins with intensive cleaning, which includes scaling and root planing. You may have to go through this procedure once or up to four times; it depends on how severe your condition is. Your dentist will then teach you a special oral care routine to do at home for the following two weeks so that your gums can heal properly.

Again depending on how the treatment has progressed, you may have to undergo more procedures like laser treatments to eradicate the remaining bacteria and to remove the damaged gum tissues. For the more advanced cases of periodontal disease, more intensive treatment may be required, such as surgery, bone grafting, and tissue grafting.

How Can Periodontal Disease Be Prevented?

The best method for preventing periodontal disease is to practice proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth after every meal, or at least twice a day. Make sure to floss once every day. Use an alcohol-free mouthwash after brushing. Regular professional cleaning by your dentist is also helpful, as this removes the plaque and tartar that even brushing and flossing cannot eliminate. Stick to a healthy diet; this is helpful for keeping your teeth and gums in healthy condition. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and stay away from the sweets and processed foods. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. This is good for rinsing the mouth and keeping it free of harmful oral bacteria.

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