Periodontal disease is more common than many of us realize, and it can affect people of all ages. Studies show that about 20% to 50% of the global population will face this dental concern, so early knowledge and prevention are crucial. The risk only increases as people age.
So, here are some common questions patients wonder about gum disease. Knowing what to look for can help you protect your teeth.
What is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a type of dentist that has expertise in all aspects related to gum disease, including preventing, diagnosing, and treating. They focus specifically on issues related to gums and the bones supporting teeth. They also specialize in dental implants.
Periodontists go through regular dental school, but they must take three years of specialized training after that. In Dr. Shabany’s case, he attended his graduate Perio program at Northwestern University with he received his certification and completed his Masters degree. You should see a periodontist if you have signs of periodontal disease.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a severe inflammatory condition that can lead to gum damage and tooth loss. It occurs when bacteria attack the gums and tissues holding your teeth in place. Patients who experience gingivitis will likely end up with periodontal disease if symptoms are left untreated.
Here are the main stages of gum disease, according to a study from InformedHealth.org:
- Early Signs – You may not notice gum disease symptoms until the ailment becomes advanced, but subtle signs are bleeding when cleaning your teeth or eating hard foods like apples.
- Gingivitis – This is the early stage of periodontal disease. You may experience swollen gums and plaque around the tooth. Gingivitis is easier to treat than more severe forms of gum disease.
- Periodontitis – When gingivitis turns into periodontitis, bone tissue will begin to break down, and there will be a small pocket between the gum and the tooth.
- Advanced Periodontitis – In extreme cases, bone tissue will break down further, and there will be a large, noticeable gap between the tooth and gum, loosening of teeth and recession.
Poor brushing and flossing habits are a common cause of periodontal disease. Without proper dental care, plaque (a sticky layer of bacteria) builds up on the teeth. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental checkups can reduce the risk of gum diseases.
What are Common Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
You will likely notice some discomfort in your mouth as gum disease develops. Here are some symptoms associated with periodontal disease:
- Bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Red or purple gums
- Tender gums
- Gums that bleed after brushing and flossing
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Changes in teeth positions
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, schedule an appointment with a periodontist. They can get a closer look at your teeth to determine the best treatment route. Your dentist will also warn you of periodontal disease symptoms during your regular checkups and cleanings.
Can Children Get Periodontal Disease?
Yes, children can get periodontal disease, but it’s less common than it is for adults. Kids can get mild forms, such as gingivitis, which could lead to periodontal disease as they age. Patients can experience early onset disease when they’re teenagers.
What are Some Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease?
There are a few treatment options for patients with periodontal disease, such as:
- Scaling and Root Planing – These are methods of removing plaque on the tooth surface near the gums. It’s the most popular non-surgical method for treating periodontal disease.
- Periodontal Surgery – If the above treatments don’t work, surgery may be necessary. Periodontal surgery will remove plaque bacteria all around the gumline while also restoring lost gum and bone tissue as needed.
- Laser Therapy and Surgery – Laser therapy is a conservative and regenerative option that removes inflamed tissue around the gums. Laser treatment requires less healing time and in most cases, results in similar or enhanced results when compared to traditional surgical approaches. At Metro West Dental & Implant Institute we utilize TwinLight Periodontal Therapy to achieve Laser Assisted New Attachment. Unlike other laser modalities where one laser wavelength is utilized, we utilize the best wavelength for each portion of the procedure to create the best outcome. Numerous studies and data support this approach as the evolution of Periodontal Surgery. Do not be fooled by diode lasers that merely act as a cheap ‘hot knife’ cauterizing and burning the tissue. TwinLight Periodontal Therapy is gentle and predictable.
Metro West Dental & Implant Institute provides many Periodontal services, which can be discussed in detail during an appointment. The treatment option for you will depend on the severity of your gum disease.
How Can You Prevent Periodontal Disease?
Before developing symptoms of gum disease, you can prevent it through a healthy dental routine. Here are a few oral hygiene tips to reduce the risk of periodontal disease:
- Brush Your Teeth – Practicing good oral hygiene seems obvious, but keeping up with a teeth brushing routine is crucial for preventing dental diseases. Dentists recommend brushing your teeth twice daily for two minutes at a time. The best time to do so is 30 minutes to an hour after you eat.
- Floss Daily – Dentists also recommend flossing your teeth once a day. Your toothbrush can’t reach every part of your teeth, so floss can remove buildup in hard-to-reach crevices.
- Use Mouthwash – Using mouthwash after you brush or floss can help rinse out any extra food particles and unhealthy bacteria. Some mouthwash products contain fluoride, which can strengthen your teeth.
- Stay Hydrated – Drinking water can help rinse food particles out of your mouth and produce saliva. Saliva can help fight harmful bacteria that lead to infection. Chewing on sugar-free gum is another way to help your mouth produce more saliva.
- Add Vitamin C to Your Diet – A vitamin C deficiency can put you at a higher risk of periodontal disease. Eating foods that are high in vitamin C, such as oranges and strawberries, or vitamin C supplements can strengthen your gums.
- Do not use Tobacco and Alcohol – If possible, limit your tobacco and alcohol intake. High amounts of those substances can worsen the symptoms of gum disease.
- Schedule Routine Dental Cleanings – Scheduling dental cleanings and checkups can help you ensure that you don’t have periodontal disease symptoms. Dental cleanings should take place every six months.
Can Gum Disease Disappear?
Gum disease won’t go away on its own, but with proper dental care, it can be stopped or slowed down. In some cases it can be reversed, however, in most cases it can’t be fully reversed, so it’s important to seek treatment as soon as you or your general dentist notice symptoms. The longer periodontal disease is left untreated, the harder it will be to fix the damage.
Even though gum disease is treatable, the risk won’t disappear completely. After treatment, symptoms can return if the patient doesn’t maintain proper dental care.
Can Bone Tissue Grow Back?
Bone tissue won’t grow back naturally, but treatment options like bone grafting, laser therapy and guided bone regneration can help. Bone grafting can restore the missing and defective bones that were affected by periodontal disease. It can be done during periodontal flap or laser treatment.
Different types of bone grafts use different types of materials. Here are the main types:
- Xenograft: Uses materials from another species, such as a cow.
- Autograft: Uses materials from your own bones, such as your hip bone.
- Allograft: The materials come from a human donor.
- Alloplast: The bone graft is made from synthetic materials that are made using calcium, phosphorus, and hydroxylapatite.
During periodontal surgery, part of the gum is folded back while the periodontist cleans the infected gum tissue. Once it’s clean, the periodontist places bone graft material in that spot to help the body build more bone. Laser Periodontal Surgery in conjunction with grafting, is a more conservative approach resulting in faster healing and less trauma to the tissue.
If there isn’t enough remaining bone for the bone graft to work, you can get a dental implant instead. In addition to other periodontal services, Metro West Dental & Implant Institute also offers dental implant restoration.
Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?
Periodontal disease itself isn’t contagious, but the bad bacteria from it can be transferred through saliva. Thus, you can’t catch the bacteria through everyday contact, but kissing someone could pose a risk. Luckily, with good oral hygiene, you can be protected from the bad bacteria that are passed to you.
Contact Metro West!
Good oral hygiene and regular dentist appointments are crucial for avoiding periodontal disease. However, once symptoms appear, it’s time to look for an experienced periodontist to give you the treatment you need.
Metro West Dental & Implant Institute specializes in periodontal services. Our team can identify and assess early and advanced symptoms to come up with the best treatment option. If you’re experiencing signs of gum disease or you have been referred by your general dentist to a Periodontist, schedule an appointment so we can address the problem efficiently.