What is Periodontal Health?
The definition of periodontal is, “relating to or affecting the structures surrounding and supporting the teeth”. Plain and simple, periodontal health is the health status of your gums, bone and supporting ligaments. Some contributing factors that can lead to periodontal disease are:
- Changes in hormones (puberty or pregnancy)
- Poor Nutrition
- Other systemic diseases (diabetes or heart disease)
- Habits (tobacco or alcohol use)
- Poor hygiene home care
Importance of Periodontal Health
Periodontal disease is often referred to as gum disease. According to the American Dental Association, nearly 75 percent of adults over the age of 35 have some form of gum disease. If you don’t treat periodontal disease, it can lead to the loss of a tooth, infection of your jaw, and even lead to an infection in your blood. When the disease travels into your bloodstream it can lead to diabetes, heart disease and stroke, respiratory infections and diseases, and osteoporosis. Luckily, gum disease can be reversed in the majority of cases provided you practice proper dental hygiene. Make sure you brush, floss, and have twice-yearly professional cleaning, and your teeth should be safe and remain exactly where they belong.
Periodontal Disease Symptoms
The earliest sign of the periodontal disease is gingivitis. Gingivitis is a bacterial infection that irritates the gums and causes them to become inflamed and bleed. When not treated, it can lead to gum disease. Some of the most common symptoms that could show you have periodontal disease are:
- Red, puffy, or bleeding gums
- Foul odor or taste in your mouth
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Receding Gums
When at your dentist’s office, during the exam there are ways and things your dentist will check to see if you have periodontal disease. Measurements of the spaces between your teeth can be taken. With healthy gums, the spaces will only measure between 1 to 3 millimeters in depth. Deeper spaces can indicate a problem. If your gums bleed during the appointment, that is another sign of potential periodontal disease. X-rays can also be taken to look for bone loss since your last x-ray. The infection can cause your bone to shrink.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
There are several different treatments for gum disease such as scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning, crown lengthening and in more serious times dental implants. After treatment it is crucial you maintain your oral health. Keep to the schedule your dentist sets for you for the followup checks for them to effectively help you combat the disease. At home, frequent flossing and the use of a power toothbrush can help maintain your oral health.
Scaling and Root Planing
If the disease is caught in the early stages, non-surgical treatment of scaling and root planing will be performed. A scaler will be used to remove the plaque and calculus. Root planing is where the bacteria and toxins will be removed from the pockets around your teeth. Debris will be flushed out with the use of a medicinal solution and antibiotics can be prescribed to help with the infection. This procedure could take more than one visit depending on the severity of your disease. An anesthetic can be administered to help make you more comfortable during the treatment.
If the disease is left too long, it can lead to you losing teeth. At this time, your dentist may recommend dental implants. You must first treat your disease in order for dental implants to be effective. Implants require healthy gums for the implant to hold to. Dental implants are very similar to actual teeth. The only difference is that they are artificially implanted to the root of the jawbone which holds the crown, in exactly the same way as a real tooth. The best thing about dental implants is that if properly cared for, they can last forever.
Don’t let the anxiety of going to the dentist or approving treatment get in the way of your oral health. With the use of sedation dentistry, you can be in and out of your appointment with ease. So, what is sedation dentistry exactly? Sedation is any process that establishes a calm and relaxed state in the patient. This is achieved through the use of sedatives, which include:
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Nitrous oxide
These can all be administered in a variety of different ways, but oral sedation is the most common method. This requires no needle, and often the experience is so relaxing that many patients don’t even remember their visit. However, this is not to say that patients are unconscious throughout the experience. Sedation dentistry generally leaves the patient conscious for cooperation and safety. Sedation dentistry is also not a substitute for anesthesia, as most dental treatments require a local anesthetic injection. And keep in mind that these injections are only performed after you have been sedated. Once you have been administered sedation, you’ll wonder what you were so afraid of to begin with.