What is periodontal disease?
It’s estimated that 80% of American adults have some form of periodontal disease. It’s a disease that can range from simple inflammation of the gums to a serious form of the disease that causes major damage to the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. Teeth can sometimes be lost as a result of periodontal disease.
Gum disease is a severe threat to your oral health. Whether you stop it or slow it down depends on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, moving forward.
What causes periodontal disease?
Bacteria inside your mouth forms plaque on your teeth. Plaque that doesn’t get removed hardens and becomes tartar, which harbors bacteria that brushing and flossing doesn’t get rid of. Only professional cleaning done by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.
Tartar and plaque on your teeth can cause gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease that makes the gums red and swollen, and causes them to bleed easily. When not treated, gingivitis can progress and become periodontitis. Patients with periodontitis experience gums pulling away from their teeth, forming pockets that get infected. The infection breaks down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in their place. It can result in teeth having to be removed.
Here are some risk factors that increase your chances of getting periodontal disease:
- Hormonal changes for girls/women
- Certain medications (some antidepressants and heart medicines)
- Illnesses (Cancer and AIDS and associated treatments)
How is periodontal disease treated?
Dr. Urquiaga’s goal in treating different forms of periodontal disease is to control the infection. The amount and types of treatment required depends on the extent and stage of the disease. Treatment usually involves either deep cleaning, medications, or a combination of the two.
In deep cleaning sessions, Dr. Urquiaga uses a method called scaling and root planing to scrape tartar off the gum line. It helps remove bacteria contributing to the advancement of the disease. Medications might be prescribed to supplement deep cleaning. In some cases, Dr. Urquiaga might recommend surgical treatment.
How can I prevent periodontal disease?
Here are some easy-to-follow tips from Dr. Urquiaga to help prevent gum disease:
- Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste)
- Floss every day without exception
- Visit your dentist routinely for check-ups and professional cleaning sessions
- Make it a point to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Don't smoke or use any tobacco products