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Have you ever wondered why your dentist is always adamant about you doing more than just brushing when it comes to your dental hygiene? Nearly a majority of adult Americans have some form of periodontal disease. The early stage of periodontal disease is most commonly called gingivitis, and it is characterized by the swelling of the gum line, and bleeding when irritated. The later stage is called periodontitis, and causes the gum line to pull away from the teeth, eventually causing bone or tooth loss. With a proper dental care regime, the more severe effects of periodontal disease can be stopped.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

The core cause of periodontal disease is bacteria building up in the mouth and infecting the tissue surrounding the teeth. As the bacteria build up, they start to inflame the gums, but also they start to deposit plaque on teeth, which is a thin film. As plaque hardens, it becomes tartar (or calculus), which can spread below the gum line, becoming harder to clean off. Once tartar has taken hold, only a dental health professional is going to be able to remove it properly.


There are many symptoms when it comes to periodontal disease, including the following:

● Bad breath that doesn’t go away

● Red or swollen gums

● Bleeding or tender gum

● Painful chewing

● Sensitive teeth

● Loose teeth

● Receding gum line, making teeth appear longer

● Teeth no longer aligning properly

● Partial dentures no longer fitting properly

Who is Most at Risk for Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease generally doesn’t appear in most adults until they are in their 30’s or 40’s. Younger teenagers may have the start of gingivitis though, so should be taught to keep up a good dental hygiene regime to stop any further progress of the disease. There are several activities, body changes or other things that can cause an increased risk of periodontal disease, such as the following:

● Smoking

● Hormonal changes

● Diabetes

● Poor oral hygiene

● Crooked teeth

● Stress

● Heredity

● Immunodeficiencies (such as AIDS)

● Medications

● Malfunctioning dental procedures (bridgesfillings, etc.)

Treating Periodontal Disease

The best treatment for periodontal disease is preventative. Preventing the buildup of bacteria can completely stop the progress of periodontal disease before it becomes more serious and damaging. Cleaning your teeth twice a day with a Fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing and yearly visits to the dentist for a checkup and deep dental cleaning.

For more severe cases of periodontitis, you’ll be referred to a periodontist for diagnosis and treatment of your periodontal disease. They will decide the best way to go forward with treatment for your case, but good daily hygiene will be key to complete treatment. Deep cleaning, called scaling and root planing is often performed to remove any tartar from the teeth above and below the gum line, then removing rough spots on the tooth root where bacteria can latch on and build up. Medications can also be used in the treatment, but surgery may be the only option to completely combat the disease. Flap surgery may be needed to clean deep pocket tartar and suture the gums back into the place. Further surgery may include bone and tissue grafts to help regenerate lost bone or gum tissue.

Prevention is the Best Medicine

When it comes to dealing with periodontal disease, prevention is always best, so contact McLean Healthy Smiles today to book a dental appointment.

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