Periodontal disease is a common and potentially very serious condition that affects your oral health. Some estimates suggest that as many as 50% of adult North Americans suffer from some degree of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Indeed, this condition runs the gamut from mild gum inflammation to more serious symptoms including bleeding gums, halitosis, and even tooth loss. More importantly, this disease can become quite costly to treat and may even be associated with more serious health issues associated with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, digestive disorders, and even respiratory disease. Also, because the bad breath, tooth loss, and gum symptoms can cause embarrassment and social anxiety, treatment or maintenance of periodontal disease is obviously important.
There are several possible causes for gum disease. Smoking, alcohol consumption, prescription medications, and other illnesses are well known risk factors for this kind of disease; however, proper oral hygiene can prevent the condition entirely. Indeed, if you notice early warning signs of periodontal disease from red, swollen gums, to bleeding gums, loose teeth, odd spacing between teeth, and bad breath, it is time to carefully consider your oral hygiene regime. If you suspect you are suffering from some degree of gum disease, you should visit your dentist immediately. A thorough cleaning along with assessment of the progression of the disease are important first steps in periodontal disease maintenance.
In assessing the severity of your periodontal disease, your dentist may utilize a number of diagnostic techniques. An oral examination in combination with x-rays will help your dentist understand how best to treat the condition. A common issue with this disease is that it can present differently between different patients because there are varying degrees of the disease. Therefore, maintenance recommendations from the dentist will also vary on a case by case basis.
Nevertheless, treatment of gum disease usually involves improved oral hygiene. Visit your dentist regularly for periodic cleanings. In the most severe cases of periodontitis, you will likely have to visit your dentist quarterly. Regular visits will help you track the progress of the condition, while also receiving deep cleanings to prevent future problems. In addition, your dentist will make several recommendations about what you can do at home to maintain good oral hygiene.
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily are important. For the best results, brush your teeth immediately when you wake. Be sure to carefully brush every surface of your teeth and avoid brushing immediately after meals. Ideally, you want your saliva to neutralize acids and particles in food before you brush, so it is best to wait for an hour after meals. Also, flossing is one of the most overlooked aspects of dental health, but regular flossing can help strengthen your gums and prevent plaque build up. Finally, your dentist may also recommend antibiotics or other medications to control infections that arise from periodontal disease.
The most important piece of advice dentists will give patients about periodontal disease is that prevention is the best policy. Maintaining good oral health will prevent infections, bone and tissue loss, and other symptoms of periodontal disease.