Periodontitis, also generally called gum disease or periodontal disease, begins with bacterial growth in your mouth and may end — if not properly treated — with tooth loss due to destruction of the tissues and bone support that surround your teeth.
The first and most obvious way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice great oral hygiene. You should see your dentist twice a year, floss daily, use mouthwash regularly, and brush your teeth at least twice a day. While you can’t change risk factors like genetics and certain illnesses or medications, you can make other lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of gum disease. For example, you can limit the sugars in your diet, and stay away from tobacco, which makes it harder for the tissues in your mouth to heal. If you’re still struggling with gum health despite improving your oral hygiene, consider keeping a toothbrush at work and brushing your teeth after lunch. While it may feel strange at first, improving the health of your teeth and protecting them from irreversible damage is well worth it.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Even advanced stages of periodontal disease are often painless, making it hard for patients to spot. There are signs you can look out for, but it’s incredibly important to go for regular cleanings so that your dentist can keep an eye out for early signs. Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth that you can’t seem to get rid of, and gums that are red, swollen, or bleed when you brush or floss can be signs of gum disease. More serious signs include receding gums, teeth that are loose or have shifted, and the formation of pockets between your teeth and gums.
If you’ve developed gum disease, periodontal therapy is an umbrella term for an array of treatments you may need to undergo. These treatments are an important part of restoring health to your teeth and gums, as well as preventing tooth loss. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments for gum disease. Your best option will depend upon your individual case, but generally, the least invasive procedures are preferred whenever possible. Typically, initial treatment begins with a procedure called scaling and root planning, also known as a deep cleaning. After a healing period of 3 months, you will return for a periodontal therapy visit, in which we will reassess your gum health and complete another cleaning of your full mouth. Patients with periodontal disease must visit the dental office every 3 to 4 months, depending on the severity of the disease, in order to maintain their gum health and bone support.