What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the tissues and bone that support teeth. Healthy gum tissue fits like a cuff around each tooth. When someone has periodontal disease, the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth. As the disease worsens, the tissue and bone that support the tooth are destroyed. When periodontal disease progresses without treatment, teeth may fall out or need to be removed. Treating periodontal disease in the early stages can help prevent tooth loss.
Periodontal disease and whole-body health
Tooth loss is not the only possible problem posed by periodontal diseases. There may be a link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke). High stress may also be linked to periodontal disease. Researchers are still studying these links.
How do I know if I have periodontal disease?
It can be hard to know. You can have periodontal disease without clear symptoms. That's why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important.
Several warning signs can signal a problem. If you notice any of the following, see your dentist:
• gums that bleed when you brush or floss
• red, swollen, or tender gums
• gums that have pulled away from your teeth
• bad breath that doesn't go away
• pus between the teeth and gums
• loose or separating teeth
• a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite • a change in the fit of partial dentures
How are periodontal diseases treated?
Periodontal treatment methods depend upon the type and severity of the disease. If the disease is caught early (when it is gingivitis), and no damage has been done to the supporting structures under the teeth, you may simply be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene after having a professional cleaning.
Even with these measures, some patients develop more severe periodontal disease that must be treated. The first step usually involves a special cleaning, called scaling and root planing. In this treatment, plaque and tartar are carefully removed down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. This treatment may be done over several visits, depending on your needs. The tooth's root surfaces are then smoothed, or planed, to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth. This is sometimes called "periodontal cleaning" or "deep cleaning" and may take more than one visit.
Dr. Kennedy also may recommend medications to help control infection and pain, or to aid healing. These medications could include a pill, a mouthrinse, or a substance that is placed directly in the periodontal pocket after scaling and root planing. If you smoke or chew tobacco products, it is important to quit. Dr. Kennedy may also advise you to talk to your physician about any other health problems that may be affecting your oral health.
Once the scaling and root planing treatment is complete, another appointment will be made within a few weeks. At this appointment, the Dr. Kennedy or your hygienist will look at your gums to see how they have healed and measure the periodontal pockets again. If the disease continues to advance to the point where the periodontal pockets get deeper and the supporting bone is lost, more treatment may be necessary.
Periodontitis will not go away by itself. Left untreated, surgery may be needed to save affected teeth. Preventing and treating the disease in the early stages are the best ways to keep your smile healthy.
If you have concerns about periodontal disease in the Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch, Bradenton area,
call Kennedy Dental at (941)351-9900.