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Periodontal (gum) disease occurs when the gum line becomes inflamed and progressively affects the bones that support the teeth. There are three stages in the development of gum disease, including gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Many individuals experience gum disease in their lifetime, but they don’t know basic information about this disease.

Here are some basic points you should know about periodontal disease.

How Do You Get Periodontal Disease?

Every person’s mouth is full of bacteria. These bacteria constantly create a colorless, sticky plaque on teeth. You can remove the bacteria by flossing and brushing. However, if an individual doesn’t regularly remove plaque from his or her teeth, the bacteria will form a tartar that cannot be removed by simple brushing. If tartar is left untreated, it will often lead to gum disease.

Most people don’t realize they have gum disease until a dentist diagnoses them. Here are some symptoms that could indicate gum disease:

  • Constant bad breath
  • Gums that recede from teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus around gums and teeth
  • Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums

If you notice one or more of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Dentists can help determine if you have gum disease and can suggest the best treatment options.

What Are Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease?

Dental professionals treat gum disease according to how severe the disease has become. If your periodontitis hasn’t developed to an advanced stage, your dentist may choose a less-invasive procedure or nonsurgical treatment. The purpose of this level of treatment is to remove bacteria from pockets surrounding the teeth. Dental patients who have severe gum disease may require a more advanced treatment.

Here are some common, nonsurgical treatment options:

  • Using antibiotics: Your dentist or periodontist may prescribe an oral or topical antibiotic to control the bacterial infection. Antibiotics can include mouth rinses or gel inserts to place between your teeth or gum pockets.
  • Changing behavior: Most dentists recommend changing your dental routine as part of a periodontal disease treatment. Patients need to remove plaque buildup every day to avoid further damage to their teeth. Behavioral changes also reduce the risk of developing periodontal diseases in the future.
  • Root planning and scaling: A dental professional can remove bacteria and tartar from beneath your gum and around your tooth by scaling and planing. Scaling and planing can be done with dental tools or an ultrasonic device.

After a patient has tried nonsurgical treatments for a few weeks, a dentist will evaluate his or her gingival tissue. If the gums have healed properly, the dentist may simply recommend coming back for regular checkups and cleanings to keep the gums in a healthy state.

If the gums haven’t improved, the patient may need dental surgery. Most surgical procedures attempt to repair damages that periodontal disease has caused.

Some surgical treatments include the following:

  • Flap surgery: Periodontists or dentists will make small incisions in your gums. Then, they will lift a flap of the gum back to expose the tooth’s root. At this point, the dentist or periodontist can perform a more effective scaling and planning treatment on the tooth’s root.
  • Soft tissue grafts: If your gum line recedes due to periodontal disease, you may need a tissue graft. A dentist or periodontist will remove some tissue from the roof of your mouth, and then attach the soft tissue to the affected site.
  • Bone grafts: Periodontal disease can destroy the bones that surround the root of a tooth. When a dentist or periodontist conducts a bone graft, he or she grafts bone onto the damaged root. The implanted bone can come from your own bones, synthetic bones, or donated bones.

Along with these treatment options, one of the best ways to recover and avoid periodontal disease is to regularly brush and floss your teeth.

If you’re worried that you may have periodontal disease, schedule an appointment with your dental professional today. He or she can help you determine if you have gum disease and recommend the best treatment option for your teeth.