Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. It is a chronic infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. It can progress silently, without any symptoms, for many years until it finally causes damage to the teeth and their supporting structures.
Periodontal disease starts with the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth.
Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth within minutes after brushing. It is made up of bacteria, food debris, and saliva. The bacteria in plaque convert carbohydrates into acids that attack tooth enamel and gums. Tartar is hardened plaque that sticks to the teeth above and below the gumline.
If plaque and tartar are not removed, they will continue to accumulate and lead to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). In gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and bleed easily. However, gum disease is still reversible at this stage and can be treated by professional cleaning and improved home care.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress to periodontitis. The gum tissue pulls away from the teeth and forms “pockets” infected. The body’s immune system tries to fight the infection, which leads to inflammation and the breakdown of gum tissue and bone. As the disease progresses, more gum tissue and bone are destroyed.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
In its early stages, periodontal disease is usually painless. This is why it is essential to have regular dental checkups and cleanings at least every six months so that the disease can be detected early and treated.
As the disease progresses, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the fit of partial dentures or other dental appliances
- Loose or shifting teeth
If you notice any of these symptoms, it is essential to see a dentist as soon as possible. Gum disease is a severe condition that can cause tooth loss and other health problems if not treated.
The good news is that periodontal disease can be treated and reversed in most cases if it is caught early with comprehensive periodontal care.
Treatment may involve professional deep cleanings by a dental hygienist to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and gum line, a thorough exam, followed by improved home care. If the disease is more advanced, surgery may be necessary to remove infected gum tissue and bone. In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection. Luckily, no highly invasive procedures are needed to treat gum disease like gum grafts, tooth extraction, or dental implants if caught early.
Antibiotic therapy may be used as a standalone treatment or with other treatments such as surgery. Systemic antibiotics are taken by mouth in pill form and enter the bloodstream, where they travel throughout the body to fight infection. Local antibiotics are applied directly to the gums.
Systemic antibiotics that may be used include:
Local antibiotics that may be used include:
Good oral health is key to preventing gum disease. You can help prevent periodontal disease by brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily. You should also have regular dental checkups and cleanings every six months. Healthy gums and teeth are necessary to have good oral health.
The Cost of Periodontal Disease Treatment
The cost of treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of the disease and the type of treatment required. Treatment may range from professional cleaning to surgery and antibiotic therapy. You should talk to your dentist about the cost of treatment for periodontal disease and how best to finance your care.
Many dental insurance plans cover a portion of the cost of treatment. However, if you do not have dental insurance, several financing options can help you pay for treatment. Your dentist’s office can help you find the best financing option for your needs.
Contact Us for an Appointment
If you think you may be suffering from periodontal disease and want to schedule an appointment, please contact Azure Dental today.
We also offer cosmetic dentistry and restorative dental services if you’re looking for a dentist on the Pacific coast in the San Francisco area. Our team of dedicated dental professionals is here to help you get the care you need to maintain your smile for a lifetime.