Millions of Americans suffer from periodontal disease. Although it is common, many people have not even heard of it and may not even be aware that they have it. Left untreated, this condition can lead to tooth loss. It is important for people to know the symptoms and what anyone who might have this disease should do. Getting the right treatment as soon as possible can make a big difference.
Common questions about periodontal disease
What is periodontal disease?
This type of disease causes the area around the teeth to become inflamed. When the gums are affected, it is called gingivitis. Periodontitis is when the bones and tissue of the teeth have inflammation. These help to hold the teeth in place, so if left untreated, a tooth is at a high risk of falling out.
What are the symptoms?
Not everyone experiences the same effects. Some people may not show any signs of periodontal disease at all. These are some of the most common symptoms:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing and flossing
- Loose teeth
- Pus between the gums and teeth
- Persistent bad breath
How is it diagnosed?
If a patient comes in with symptoms, the dentist does a full examination. This involves going over the patient’s medical history to determine if there are any risk factors, such as smoking. The professional checks the mouth for tartar buildup and may measure the pocket depth to see if it is deeper than it should be. X-rays may be taken to check for bone loss. Once a diagnosis is made, the dentist issues a treatment plan.
Can it be treated?
This condition is treatable, especially when caught early. There are both surgical and nonsurgical options depending on the severity of the case. Nonsurgical treatment usually involves removing the buildup of tartar and bacteria from the tooth and gums. Sometimes antibiotics are needed to help control the infection. If the disease has become too advanced, the patient may require surgery to remove the damaged tissue.
Is it preventable?
Although this disease is not 100% preventable, there are things people can do to reduce the risk of getting it. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day is best practice. It is important to visit the dentist for regular checkups as well.
Who is at risk of getting it?
Both children and adults can get gum disease. Those with a family history of the illness are at a greater risk. Hormonal changes in women can increase the likelihood of developing this condition as well. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors and can affect treatment outcome.
Does insurance cover treatment?
Insurance coverage depends on the individual policy. Patients should go over their policy and speak to the insurance company before beginning treatment. Those who may not have full coverage should talk to the dental office about a payment plan.
Having good oral hygiene goes a long way in preventing periodontal disease. Patients should call a dental professional at the first signs of a problem. The earlier one gets help, the easier it is to treat the condition.
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