Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a malady that affects the gums. Gum disease is very common among adults and should be treated by a dentist. Most adults have had some type of gum disease during their life. Gum disease is most often associated with poor dental hygiene, and those with plaque are more likely to develop periodontal disease.
Tarter and plaque can accumulate, especially at the gum line, and can cause the teeth to move away from the gums. This leaves small pockets available where bacteria can accumulate to cause gum disease.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
There are various symptoms of gum disease. While all of these symptoms may not be present, any of them should be reviewed by your dentist for a professional diagnosis. Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontal disease and if left untreated leads to periodontitis. Bleeding gums is a common symptom of periodontal disease. The gums may not bleed all the time but are sensitive and may bleed during brushing. Plaque buildup, particularly at and under the tooth line, can form into hard deposits called tarter. This can cause the gums to become swollen or infected. As plaque and tarter collect, they can cause small areas between the teeth and gums that allow bacteria to live. This bacteria can cause an infection of the gums. Other symptoms include bad breath, sensitive teeth, pain when chewing and receding gums.
Treating Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease should be treated by a dentist. The first thing the dentist will do is evaluate the disease to determine whether it is gingivitis (the beginnings of gum disease) or periodontitis. The first course of action will be to control the infection. Deep cleaning will need to be performed, which may include scaling and root planing. Scaling is done to scrape the tarter off the teeth, both above and below the gum line. Planing is done to smooth out the root where bacteria can accumulate. Laser or surgical treatment is sometimes necessary. In addition, the dentist will prescribe antibiotics. You’ll also be provided with a home treatment routine that may include rinsing with a special mouth rinse to help control bacteria.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best prevention for gum disease is to maintain good oral health. Properly clean your teeth daily and after meals to reduce the buildup of plaque. Plaque that is left on the teeth will form tarter and will be much more difficult to remove. Rinse your mouth with a dental rinse to remove any food particles or debris and use floss to remove anything that is stuck between the teeth. Most importantly, visit your dentist often and have your teeth professionally cleaned once or twice per year. This professional cleaning helps eliminate plaque from under the gums where it’s more difficult to remove. Have dental problems taken care of immediately so they don’t cause excess bacteria in the mouth. Smoking and some medications can also contribute to gum disease, so you may have to consider new lifestyle habits.