Periodontal disease is a common and often unpleasant disease ranging from its earliest form of gingivitis all the way to advanced chronic periodontitis. According to research evidence, it could also play a role in a whole host of seemingly unrelated health problems. Periodontal Disease is a slow, progressive disease that has the capability to destroy our oral as well as our overall systemic health.
Many of the underlying symptoms of periodontal disease take time to manifest themselves and are often ignored. It is important to recognize these signs and symptoms as periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults. The periodontal disease shows itself in many different forms, including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases.
Each type of periodontal disease has its own set of characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt, individualized treatment by your dentist to help slow the progression and hopefully halt the subsequent bone and gum tissue loss. The risk of periodontal disease increases with age. For younger people, dental caries is a more important risk for tooth loss, while for older people, periodontal disease is the more important risk factor.
Studies have shown that over 70% of all Americans aged 65 and older have some form of periodontal disease. The underlying mechanisms behind periodontal disease progression are relatively well understood, and newer research shows that this health problem may play a role in the development of a number of other conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and respiratory disease.
Everything You Need to Know About Periodontitis
Once you get to the stage of periodontitis, you must see your dentist for treatment. Only your dental office is equipped with the proper knowledge and instruments that can remove the plaque and bacterial buildup that is causing your periodontal disease.
Is Periodontal Disease Reversible?
It all depends on the stage you are in. The only form of gum disease that is reversible is the earliest stage. That stage is known as gingivitis. During this stage, the only symptoms will be some gum inflammation and bleeding upon brushing. Common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease include:
Bleeding Upon Brushing, Flossing, Or Eating.
This is one of the most common signs that periodontal disease is active. It is often also one of the most overlooked signs of the disease process. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. As the bacteria and toxins build up in the mouth, the body responds by activating the inflammatory process, rushing our cells to stop the attack.
This will cause the gum tissues to become inflamed and red. It is important to note that bleeding gums can also be something more sinister, like leukemia and blood platelet disorders.
Unexplained Pain Or Swelling.
This can be caused by an infection in the gum tissue or bone. At this point, it is essential that you get to a dentist as soon as possible. If the infection is left unchecked, it will cause damage to the gum tissues and the bone supporting your teeth. It can also be carried to other parts of the body through the bloodstream, which can cause a host of systemic health issues
Persistent Bad Breath (also called Halitosis).
Bad breath can occur from many things, but persistent bad breath can mean progressive periodontal disease. As the gum tissues are destroyed, the areas where the oral bacteria can flourish will increase, causing a foul odor in the mouth. There are other causes of chronic Halitosis that should also be ruled out.
Change In Your Smile Or Loose Teeth.
As periodontal disease advances, your teeth will loosen and shift out of position. This will affect the way your teeth fit together and even alter your smile. Note any changes to your smile.
Teeth Become Longer In Appearance.
As periodontal disease progresses, it will lead to the destruction of the bone and gum tissues. This will show up as gum recession. Once the gum tissues pull back, they expose more of the tooth and root, making them appear longer than before.
This goes along with the periodontal infection mentioned previously. An active periodontal infection will create pus which can ooze out from between the teeth and gums, causing a bad taste and malodor.
How Do I Save My Smile?
Luckily, with dental implants, we have a way to restore your smile without the use of removable dentures. But who wants to go down that road if they can keep their original smile. If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, you must see your dentist immediately for periodontal care. The first stage of treatment will include an assessment of the disease process.
Your dentist will complete a thorough examination with radiographs and periodontal charting. Notations about the visual condition of the gum tissue will also be recorded. In its earliest stages, the gum tissue is usually red, puffy, and painless, or slightly tender at this point. Plaque and tartar will more than likely be present to some degree.
A periodontal probe will be used to measure around the teeth to see if your periodontal disease has progressed, to what degree, and in what areas of the mouth.
It is important to note that once bone loss has occurred, you now have a more advanced form of periodontal disease. Following the examination, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment for your periodontal disease. This will include a professional cleaning along with extra home care instructions.
Your dentist may use the term “scaling and root planing” when describing the treatment.
This treatment is one of the most conservative and effective procedures to treat periodontal disease before it progresses. Scaling is the removal of calculus (commonly called tartar) and plaque that attach to the tooth and root surfaces. Scaling and root planing cleans between the gums and the teeth along with the roots. This type of dental hygiene cleaning specifically targets the areas below the gum line (along the root) that you are unable to reach on your own.
Scaling and root planing are sometimes referred to an as deep dental cleaning. Scaling involves the removal of built-up plaque at the gum line using either manual hand instruments or an ultrasonic cleaning tool. During root planing, your dentist or hygienist will be gently cleaning the roots of your teeth and removing any rough spots along with the roots and teeth. Plaque and bacteria are far more likely to stick to rough surfaces.
The root surface is made smooth in a process called root planing. Root planing removes any remaining tartar and smooths irregular areas of the root surface. This procedure is usually performed using local anesthesia because the roots of teeth are unprotected by enamel and are very sensitive. Local anesthetic should prevent you from feeling discomfort during the root planing and scaling.
Scaling and root planing actually helps the gum tissues heal. The gum tissues will have an easier time reattaching themselves to a smoother root surface than a rough one. The smoother surface also helps keep dental plaque from attacking the tooth’s root surface. This makes it far easier to maintain the gum tissue following treatment.
Scaling and root planing has been shown to help prevent periodontal disease from progressing, and it can also reverse the signs of gingivitis (the earliest form (and only reversible stage) of periodontal disease).
Once the scaling and root planing is completed, oral hygiene preventive care is necessary to keep gums healthy. Periodontal disease can not be cured, but it can be held at bay with proper oral hygiene techniques and practices.
Brushing, flossing, and rinsing will help fight the dental plaque that is constantly forming around teeth. Antibacterial rinses, such as Peridex and stannous fluoride rinses, help keep bad bacteria at bay. Tartar dissolving products such as Periogen can be used to help keep teeth cleaner between cleanings and allow for greater healing to occur. Regular dental examinations and visits to your hygienist are required to clean areas we are unable to.
A simple, conservative procedure like scaling and root planing can reduce periodontal disease’s effects and restore the gum tissue to a healthy state. Without proper treatment, periodontal disease will progress. It will progress past the gingivitis stage into periodontitis. Periodontitis is not reversible like gingivitis.
Remember: Once gum tissue is lost, it doesn’t grow back. The earlier you treat gum disease, the better chance you have for recovery.
How To Replace Lost Teeth?
If the periodontal disease has progressed to the point where a single tooth or multiple teeth are lost, further treatment is necessary to restore your smile. Every patient will have different options. A prime dental treatment is the use of dental implants. Dental implants are an easy fix for a smile ravaged by periodontal disease.
The beauty of dental implants is that they will actually be an ongoing treatment for your periodontal disease. They come with the added benefit of being able to maintain bone levels going forward. This will also give the cosmetic benefit to your face by keeping your face full and youthful.
Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?
We all have natural oral bacteria present. Maintaining good dental hygiene gives us the ability to keep these bacteria levels at bay and maintain a healthy smile. Periodontal disease is primarily a disease of dental hygiene neglect. However, the bacteria that causes periodontal disease can be passed along thru saliva. This is often how our children end up with similar oral bacteria profiles.
Marielaina Perrone DDS offers a service called OralDNA testing. This testing allows her to customize periodontal care based on the oral bacteria profile in your individual case. Just an added tool that we provide to give our patients the best possible dental care possible.
Other treatments include the use of Arestin in areas where there is active periodontal disease. Arestin (minocycline hydrochloride) is an antibiotic that comes in the form of microspheres. These microspheres are placed locally into areas of concern. Periodontal disease generally hits certain areas over others initially. This gives us a chance to localize the treatment of periodontal disease with arestin.
Is Arestin Effective?
Yes! Studies have shown that it is more effective in treating pocket reduction when paired with Scaling and Root Planing Versus Scaling & Root Planing alone. In fact, clinical trials have shown significant pocket reductions in as little as 1-3 months and maintenance for at least nine months. It has also shown significant reductions in our more difficult to treat patients. Those include smokers, ones with a history of heart disease, and those over age 50.
If more conservative treatments are not effective, you also have the option of periodontal flap or bone graft surgery if your periodontitis is very advanced.
Periodontal disease is treatable and manageable. Maintaining regular dental visits and at-home dental hygiene is the best defense against periodontal disease.
If you are ready for a smile makeover, contact Marielaina Perrone DDS at (702) 458-2929 to schedule a no-cost cosmetic consultation appointment. We cannot wait to help you with your smile makeover to create the smile of your dreams in Summerlin, Henderson, and Las Vegas, NV.