According to statistics acute periodontal diseases affects at least 5% of Americans. Another 45% suffer from a less severe form which nevertheless has the potential to develop into the full-blown version of the disease. What is periodontal disease and can it be treated? Why has it proved to be so hard to tackle to date? This article will answer some basic questions about periodontal treatment.
What is periodontal disease?
The simplest way to describe periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. It affects the bottom area of the gum and the area around it. Periodontal disease starts off as gingivitis but when not treated on time it can slowly turn into periodontal disease. There are several non-invasive procedures that can be used to treat periodontal disease but in its advanced form the only thing that will work is surgery.
What are the signs that one has periodontal disease?
In its early stages, when it is still gingivitis the most common signs are bad breathe, mild bleeding of the gums and you may experience some pain as well. The roots of the teeth will be covered in plaque. As the disease progresses the guns start to recede, bleeding is common place and teeth will start to fall out. Some people eventually lose most or all of their teeth to periodontal disease.
What can I do to stop periodontal disease?
The best thing you can do is practice proper oral health. You should brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss to get rid of any food that may be stuck between the teeth. You should also see your dentist on a regular basis for a deep cleaning – it will get rid of all plaque which will stop gingivitis in its tracks.
What is involved in periodontal treatment?
If you go to your dentist with bad breath and bleeding gums the first thing he will do is a full examination to examine how far the disease has progressed. Depending on how badly your teeth and gums are affected he will come up with a customized treatment plan for you. It is recommended that the dentist try non-surgical methods first before he does anything more aggressive. He will do is scaling using special implements to get rid of the tartar that has accumulated on the teeth and also in the periodontal pockets and the surface of the root of the tooth, which is called root planing. This procedure also removes the bacteria that cause the disease to advance. If the dentist determines that there is the need for treatment of the infected areas he will administer a course of strong antibiotics. These medications can be delivered through trays which patients wear on their teeth for a certain period every day to kill off bacteria and other pathogens that may be causing oral problems.
Scaling and root planing are able to care of the problem most of the time. However, once you develop periodontal disease you will have to practice excellent oral care for the rest of your life. You must see the dentist several times a year to repeat the procedure and check whether the disease may have recurred.
If scaling and planing are not enough – like if the gum is severely receded – your dentist can consider surgical options. These are expensive and time consuming and only used as a last option.
The important thing to know about periodontal disease is that it progresses very slowly – it will take years before you have the full-blown version of the disease. You therefore have lots of time to get early interventions. You should see your dentist if your teeth bleed every time you brush them and if your gums are painful or sensitive to touch. Even bad breath could be a sign of a more serious problem. So long as the dentist is able to catch gum disease in the early stages it can be successfully treated and you don’t have to worry about tooth loss.
How long does periodontal treatment take?
It varies from person to person. If the disease has left very deep pockets it will take longer to treat than if it is just beginning to develop. Some people are able to get periodontal treatment in one visit while others may require two or more – your dentist will let you know how many appointments you need.
What should I do after a periodontal treatment?
If your gums are very sore you will not be able to brush your teeth until they are healed but your dentist will give you step by step instructions on how to keep your teeth and mouth clean.
Does teeth cleaning help?
Having your teeth cleaned on a regular basis is one of the best things you can do to ward off gingivitis. You should see your dentist at least twice a year for cleaning. If he recommends deep cleaning do it right away so that you can stop tartar in its tracks.
Will insurance pay for periodontal treatment?
It depends on the kinds of benefits that are offered by your policy. If you have dental insurance it may be wholly covered but if you have general health insurance it may not be covered, or it may be covered up to a certain point. If you have to pay from your own pocket you can talk to your doctor about putting you on a payment plan.