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Second only to the common cold, dental diseases (cavities and gum disease) are the most common diseases affecting people! With the addition of fluoride to our water and toothpaste, dental decay has almost become a problem of the past. But, it took the addition of fluoride to win that battle; brushing and flossing alone did not work. The same is true with periodontal disease. Brushing and flossing may not be enough.

Brushing your teeth prevents cavities by cleaning the smooth surfaces of your teeth. But gum disease starts in between the teeth. Typically, a regular toothbrush can’t reach these critical, hard-to-reach areas. On top of that, most individuals don’t or can’t floss regularly or effectively.

Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the gums that’s reversible. However, periodontal disease is a gum and bone disease. The infection has spread from the gum into the bone and permanent damage has occurred. There are several stages of this disease, and up to 75% of the population is estimated to have periodontal disease in some form (though most of them don’t know it).

Periodontal disease is a serious infection. Evidence now links gum disease to a variety of health concerns, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other degenerative diseases that are life threatening. It’s not just about your teeth anymore!

Periodontal disease can be a disfiguring disease. Your gums swell in size and become very red and angry looking. They may bleed very easily and your teeth may shift, causing the dark spaces between your teeth to start showing. The teeth then become loose and may need to be removed.

The good news is, if it is detected early, it can be controlled. Early detection, as with other diseases, is the key to successful treatment. When you come in for your regular appointments, your dental professional will routinely perform a gum disease screening exam. The American Dental Association recommends that this testing is done at least once a year.

The results of this exam will determine your periodontal status. If you have periodontal disease, your treatment will be personalized for you and your level of infection. A routine cleaning is not enough by itself to treat periodontal disease. Periodontal treatment, also referred to as root scaling and planning, consists of professional in-office care that detoxifies the tooth surfaces below the gum line and in between the teeth. Then a medicine will be used to flush out the bacteria that caused the infection.

For more information about treating and preventing periodontal disease, talk to your dentist or hygienist, or call to make an appointment at (208)722-6400.