Did you know that you can get periodontal disease from kissing? Because the disease is caused by bacteria from plaque buildup, it can be passed from one person to another through saliva. Periodontal disease is the primary cause of tooth loss and usually appears in patients who use improper brushing techniques, but it can also be hormonal and genetic.
When plaque is left unchecked, it gradually hardens into tartar and becomes difficult to clean. Tartar often forms in the areas that people miss while brushing – in between the teeth, and around the gum line. A dentist can remove this tartar and any that might have spread below the gums, but when this bacteria is allowed to progress it becomes periodontal disease.
The symptoms may not be immediately obvious, but some warning signs include tender and swollen gums, bad breath, and sensitive teeth. As periodontal disease worsens, it can cause gum recession which exposes the part of the tooth that is not protected by enamel. This porous, sensitive material is called dentin, and without the coating of enamel it is more susceptible to decay. The combination of tooth decay and gum recession can eventually lead to losing the tooth altogether.
If you or your dentist notice signs of periodontal disease, there are a few options for treatment. The first step beyond standard dental cleaning is to perform scaling and root planing on the affected teeth. This is a very common, simple procedure that dentists use to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line. Your dentist will apply a local anesthetic before using a small instrument to gently scrape the tartar out of the pocket that has formed between your teeth and gums.
This process removes most of the bacteria that causes periodontal disease, but often a small amount is unreachable at the bottom of the pocket in your gum tissue. This means that the bacteria can continue to spread and harm your oral health. At Stanley Dentistry, we use ARESTIN treatments to remove that last bit of bacteria. ARESTIN is an antibiotic that is designed specifically for use after scaling and root planing, and it is applied directly to the gum tissue pockets after the procedure.
This combination of procedure and antibiotic is often enough to treat the symptoms and prevent further damage. However, if your gum recession is severe and you’re at risk for losing teeth, your dentist can also perform a gum graft to replace the missing tissue and re-anchor the teeth.
Building a Healthy Smile
Periodontal disease is easily preventable and treatable. You can avoid periodontal disease by following these steps:
- Brush your teeth daily, and make sure to brush along the gum line
- Floss at least once every other day
- Visit your dentist regularly for a thorough cleaning
Flossing and brushing daily keep the amount of tartar buildup to a minimum, and any tartar that remains can be removed by a dentist during a hygiene visit. These regular visits also allow the dentist to look for early stages of periodontal disease and prevent it from progressing further.
Our mission at Stanley Dentistry is to help you create your best smile, and gingival health is a key part of that. If you’re ready to take the next step toward healthy gums and a healthy smile, please call us at 919.460.9665 and we will be happy to set up an appointment for you.