Advanced gum disease, called periodontitis, affects many people all around the world. As common as the condition is, tooth loss is often the unfortunate outcome when left untreated. But today, with so many successful treatment options available for advanced periodontal disease, losing teeth doesn't have to be your next step with an unhealthy gumline.
Gingivitis to Periodontitis
Gum disease is a sneaky, progressive disease, and here's why: The first stage, called gingivitis, occurs when bacterial plaque is not thoroughly removed from your teeth. Red, swollen and bleeding gums are the telltale signs of this infection. However, this condition is easily reversible with daily brushing and flossing – and a professional cleaning at the dentist's office.
When left untreated, however, gingivitis can progress into a more serious condition called periodontitis. Toxins from this buildup of bacterial plaque not only affect your gum tissue, but also the bone and ligaments that support your teeth. As the infection causes disease to the bone and supporting tissues, your teeth may eventually become loose and need to be treated surgically or removed.
Your first step in treating periodontitis is a conservative, nonsurgical treatment called scaling and root planing (SRP). A dentist or dental hygienist provides this treatment by scraping and removing the plaque and tartar off of your teeth and root surfaces by scaling, and then smoothing away any roughness on the roots to prevent bacteria from gathering again.
After this process, the gums will heal and reattach themselves to the healthy, clean surfaces of the teeth. Within a few weeks, your dentist will evaluate your healing and decide if further treatment is necessary.
Anyone who has had treatment for advanced periodontal disease knows that meticulous homecare is the key to keeping periodontal disease from rearing its ugly head again. Because personal oral care is a big part of any periodontal treatment plan, your dentist or dental hygienist will spend lots of time with you making sure you understand and implement proper brushing and flossing techniques at home. In addition to not smoking, which inhibits the healing process, your dentist will also recommend keeping a close eye on your periodontal health with more frequent checkups and cleaning appointments. When dealing with periodontal disease, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."