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Periodontal Disease

Usually Periodontal disease starts as a painless condition affecting at least 4 out of 5 adults. Because of this, most affected adults don’t even know they have it.

Periodontal disease is caused by a bacterial infection that can affect not just the teeth and gums.  Plaque, which is a sticky film, composed of bacteria and food debris can cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily, a condition known as gingivitis.  Genetic, immune and other factors can next cause the bone supporting the teeth to be lost as the disease progresses.  As this process continues, teeth can become loose and may begin to shift causing bite changes.  Teeth can eventually be lost. This can cause unsightly changes in one’s smile.

Researchers are now suggesting a link between periodontal disease with a host of other systemic conditions.  The bacteria and/or inflammation caused by periodontal disease may increase the chances of (or worsen) cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and artificial valve and joint failure.

Periodontal Treatment:

Your dentist will make a diagnosis as to the conditions of your gums.  If you have very minor disease (gingivitis), you may be instructed to brush and floss more thoroughly.  You may be instructed to use an electric toothbrush or prescription mouth rinses.  You may be advised to return more frequently than every 6 months.  If you have more severe gum disease where there are accumulations of plaque and calculus below the gum line and bone loss is already occurring additional treatment may be needed.  Scaling and root planing is a procedure where special instruments are used to remove the accumulations of plaque and calculus below the gum line.  This can be done painlessly using local anesthesia (novocaine).

We have been using dental lasers lately to treat certain periodontal conditions with often terrific results.  The laser works by killing the bacteria causing the periodontal disease and by selectively removing the diseased gum tissue and leaving the healthy tissue behind.

Antibiotics are sometimes used either in pill form or placed as a sticky paste at the site of infection painlessly below the gum line.

In more severe cases, a referral to a periodontist or gum specialist may be needed.

In all cases after treatment, long-term success highly depends upon meticulous oral hygiene by the patient and usually more frequent monitoring and cleaning appointments.

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