The term gum disease or periodontal disease is often used to describe the bacterial growth inside the mouth. The word “periodontal” literally means “around the tooth.”
If left treatment, bacteria in the mouth is fully capable of destroying the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth, leading to a various of dental problems.
The root cause of it all is plaque, a sticky substance that’s always forming on your teeth. Both regular brushing and flossing help reduce dental plaque. However, if oral care is neglected and plaque is left to accumulate for too long, the plaque can harden and become tartar in as little as 24 hours. Once the plaque hardens and becomes tartar, it can bond so tightly to the teeth that it can only be removed via professional cleaning at the dentist’s office.
It’s important to take note that gum disease is only treatable in its early stages, and once it’s progressed too far, the symptoms can only be managed via a combination of periodic cleanings and paying extra attention to oral care at home.
That being said, the best way to treat gum disease is by preventing it in the first place. The best way to do this is to brush teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once. It would also help to ask for a demonstration from your dentist to learn the proper technique. This is especially important with flossing as if done properly, it can help remove plaque from between the teeth and under the gumline, which is something that brushing alone can’t do.
Speaking of dentists, frequent dental checkups also play a key role in preventing gum disease. Having teeth periodically cleaned and checked by a dental health professional helps increase the chances gum disease being caught early on and treated before it worsens.
If, however, gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, the goal of the treatment shifts from prevention to controlling the infection and halting any further progress. Typically, the treatment involves making healthier lifestyle choices, especially in regards to food, as well as an added emphasis on brushing and flossing. The dentist may also recommend a non-surgical procedure to help control the growth of the harmful bacteria. Often, the standard treatment is scaling and root planning, which is a type of intensive deep cleaning that involves scraping the plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline. Afterwards, rough spots, which is usually where germs tend to collect, are removed and smoothed out.
Do keep in mind that treatment methods aren’t universal. This means that not all treatment methods are as effective for every patient. As such, dentists carefully plan the course of treatment depending on the progression of the disease, and if available, any feedback from earlier treatments. Your oral health care provider will work closely with you in making sure that your treatment methods are best suited for your particular case.
Regardless of the course of treatment, the goal remains the same, and that is, to reduce swelling, minimize the risk of infection, stop further damage and more importantly, restore oral health.
It’s important that you, as a patient, listen to what your dentist or periodontist says to increase the likelihood of the treatment being successful.