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About gum disease.

At some point, almost all adults will suffer from periodontal (gum) disease. Though it’s extremely common, periodontal disease can lead to multiple health problems, from bad breath to heart disease.

What causes gum disease? Poor oral hygiene habits, for starters. Dental plaque is full of bacteria, and when it’s not removed through brushing and flossing, it can harden to form calculus, which builds up and causes inflammation, becoming more and more harmful. Some refer to this built-up plaque and calculus as “tartar”; dental professionals call it “biofilm.”

Some people are more sensitive to the effects of biofilm than others. Smoking, diabetes, cancer, immune deficiency, puberty and menopause are just a few of the factors that increase your risk of serious gum disease. It’s also now known that the disease has a strong genetic component, so you can have inherited risk as well.

Stages of gum disease.

Gum disease is progressive and usually does not show up until middle adulthood. By the time people reach their 60s, chances are they’ve had some degree of gum disease, which advances in stages.

Gingivitis: In this stage, plaque inflammation causes mild symptoms such as tenderness, swelling and bleeding while brushing or flossing.

Periodontitis: This stage is characterized by more advanced buildup of hardened biofilm. Gums begin to recede, and pockets of inflamed tissue develop between the teeth and gums. These symptoms may also be accompanied by persistent bad breath, sensitivity and pain while chewing.

Advanced periodontitis: As biofilm builds up and inflammation increases, gums recede even more, exposing roots to decay and causing teeth to loosen. At this stage, even healthy teeth may fall out or need to be extracted.

Periodontal disease treatment.

Good self-care — including brushing, flossing and a well-balanced diet — are the best ways to avoid gum disease. You’ll also need professional cleanings to remove built-up biofilm. In patients with periodontitis, aggressive treatment is required. This may include a highly effective nonsurgical combination procedure called deep scaling and root planning (Perio Therapy).

Perio Therapy is essentially a very deep and thorough version of a regular dental cleaning. Biofilm from above and below the gumline is removed, eliminating the source of bacteria that infects and inflames the gums. The treatment can reverse gum disease and prevent the need for more drastic options.

How Perio Therapy (deep scaling and root planing) works.

After numbing the area with anesthesia, we use instruments (including a laser) to thoroughly remove all calculus, bacteria and toxins from your teeth and gums. It may be done in one appointment or split up into several sessions. The length of time depends on the severity of your condition.

After treatment, your teeth may be slightly sensitive to hot or cold. However, your mouth should feel better immediately. The surface of your teeth will be nice and smooth, your smile will be whiter, and periodontitis-related bad breath will be gone.

Perio Therapy is not a cure. You will still have to control your periodontal disease through good home care and regular follow-up visits. Medication and antibacterial mouthwash may also be prescribed. In addition, you may be advised to get genetic testing to determine the best course of action for your dental health.

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