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If your dentist has told you that you have periodontal or gum disease, know that you are not alone. A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that up to 50% of the US adult population over the age of thirty have some stage of periodontal disease, which comes in a wide range of severity. Whether your disease worsens, stops, or slows is dependent upon how well you keep your regular maintenance appointments and take care of your teeth and gums. The success of your periodontal treatment is up to you! Here are some important things to do to ensure that your gum disease is being treated and taken care of:

Keep Brushing and Flossing The most important thing you can be doing on a daily basis to take care of your teeth and gums is brush daily and floss regularly. While many people understand the importance of brushing, few remember the importance of flossing. Cleaning between the teeth is vital because it is often where most periodontal problems occur. It is not uncommon for periodontal patients to have receded gums. In these cases, there is often enough space to use other interdental cleaners other than floss. Wider types of floss, interdental brushes, and picks can be good options in these circumstances.

Regular Dental Appointments Your regular hygiene and maintenance appointments may be needed more frequently now than they have been in the past. Periodontal maintenance ranks between a routine dental cleaning and a “deep cleaning” or scaling and root planning that people with periodontal disease often get at the beginning of treatment. When your dentist or hygienist schedules you for perio maintenance appointments, make them a priority! Research has shown that individuals who follow through with their appointments do better than those who do not show up for their appointments. Missing your regular appointments typically results in needing further treatment and in some cases, even the loss of teeth.

Sensitive Teeth Be aware that patients receiving periodontal treatment will sometimes experience sensitivity after their procedures. This sensitivity can make patients hesitant or afraid to brush and floss in the areas that were treated, but even when it seems painful or difficult, it is imperative that you keep brushing and flossing. If the plaque in these areas is not removed, it could result in the persistence of sensitivity, discomfort, and root decay. In the vast majority of cases, the tooth sensitivity that accompanies perio maintenance is a temporary issue that goes away on its own. However, if it is something that bothers you for an extended period of time, you may consider using desensitizing toothpastes or fluoride gels. Your dentist is also there to answer any questions you may have and offer any other suggestions that may be helpful in treating tooth sensitivity.