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Gum Disease and Periodontal Treatment

Periodontal disease is a serious condition that occurs when the gum tissue and bone around the teeth become infected. Also known as gum disease (gingivitis or periodontal/bone loss). Symptoms should not be ignored and include the following: red, swollen gums, chronic bad breath or your gums bleed upon brushing you should let us know immediately. Gum disease is often painless and invisible to the naked eye but is the leading cause of tooth loss.

We have an amazing hygiene team that cantreat most cases of gum and bone support issues.

What is Periodontal Disease? Periodontal disease is a disease of the gums and supporting bone. The gum tissues become swollen, red, and bleed easily and the bone surrounding and supporting the teeth begins to break down. This inflammation process is caused by your body’s response to the infection caused by the harmful bacteria and their endotoxins. If left untreated, periodontal disease can not only cause tooth loss, it can also affect your overall health. Unfortunately, early and moderate periodontal disease may only exhibit few, if any symptoms. That is why regular visits to our office are crucial. Periodontal disease can never be cured, but it can be treated, and then maintained and stabilized by working together with your hygienist.

Checking for Periodontal Disease: At each visit, our hygienist will examine you for periodontal disease or check the current status of the disease process. There is a naturally occurring space between your tooth and gum tissue that creates a little pocket. We will use a periodontal probe instrument to measure that space. This, along with x-rays, determines if there is any inflammation or bone loss present.

Treating Periodontal Disease: If periodontal disease is present, Dr. Sperbeck and the hygienist may recommend a non-surgical periodontal therapy. This is called Scaling and Root Planing (SRP). During SRP, the plaque biofilm and hardened tartar build-up is removed from above and below the gumline on the root surface. These appointments are usually done in two 1 ½ hours visits, one for each side of your mouth. A localized anesthetic will be used to minimize discomfort. In some cases, an antibiotic may be directly placed into the periodontal diseased gum pocket.

Re-evaluation and Maintenance Appointments: A 6 week re-evaluation will be done to check the tissues to make sure things are responding to the treatment. This appointment will also allow us to determine the recall interval for future periodontal maintenance appointments. Depending upon the severity of the disease we will usually shorten the time between hygiene visits, usually every three to four months. That may change in the future, depending on your body’s response to the periodontal disease and if youare diligent in your home care routine. Some patients may need to always stay on a 3 month recall, while some may be able to stretch to 4 months or 6 months. We will check the status at each maintenance appointment.

Referral to Periodontist: A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in treating periodontal disease. In some advanced cases, we may need to refer the patient out to this specialist. This will be discussed in detail, if that may be the instance.

Why is treating periodontal disease important? Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. We are living longer and our teeth are important not only to the look and shape of our mouth but also in ensuring we can receive proper nutrition for a healthy body. In addition, increasingly, research is showing periodontal disease is related to numerous health issues such as the following:

Diabetics are more likely to develop periodontal disease than non-diabetics. This is because diabetics are more susceptible to contracting infections and developing other oral manifestations. A study in the Journal of Periodontology found that poorly controlled type 2 diabetic patients are more likely to develop periodontal disease than well-controlled diabetics
Research has emerged that suggests that the relationship between periodontal disease and diabetes goes both ways – periodontal disease may make it more difficult for people who have diabetes to control their blood sugar.
Severe periodontal disease can increase blood sugar, contributing to increased periods of time when the body functions with a high blood sugar. This puts diabetics at increased risk for diabetic complications. Thus, diabetics who have periodontal disease should be treated to eliminate the periodontal infection. In fact research has shown the link to be so strong that some insurances are now covering a third hygiene appointment for patients with diabetes.

During the 2011 International Association for Dental Research (IADR) General Session and Exhibition in San Diego a research paper was released showing the link between poor oral health and risk of stroke. In fact, this research suggested that dental disease may be equal to high blood pressure, in terms of risk of stroke.

Heart Disease
Studies have found the incidence of heart disease is about twice as high in people with periodontal disease. Also, studies have indicated that the most common strain of bacteria in dental plaque enter the blood stream and attach to fatty plaques in the blood vessels and may cause blood clots. When blood clots escape into the bloodstream, there is a relation to increased risk of heart attacks and other heart illness. Studies show that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease compared to those without periodontal disease can also aggravate existing heart conditions.

Pre-Term Labor
There is a strong linked associate with periodontal disease and a woman’s risk of delivering early. It is thought that this may be due to increased body-wide inflammation caused by the disease. It is very important that women who are pregnant keep up on their dental health. This is another one of those situations where insurance may cover an additional hygiene appointment with appropriate documentation.

In addition, periodontal disease has been linked as increasing your risk for rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, pneumonia, breast cancer and other inflammatory diseases. We can help you keep your smile healthy and as a result help your whole body. We are passionate about educating and keeping our patients healthy. We are always here to answer any questions you may have to help keep your health at the optimum level.