Living with Periodontal Disease

By Carol Waldman August 27, 2016

Periodontal disease is the result of your body’s reaction to the plaque and tartar not being removed from the teeth on a regular basis with bi-annual visits to your North York dentist. Over time, the plaque hardens and traps bacteria in the tartar at the base of the teeth near the gum line. Tartar is a hard substance that cannot be removed with regular brushing and flossing and can only be removed by your dental clinic.

If the tartar is not removed, it irritates the gums and can lead to sore, swollen and bleeding gums, which is commonly called gingivitis. If you’re particularly susceptible patient, this inflammation can progress to periodontal disease, called Periodontitis. At this stage, the gums and underlying bone will start to recede from the root and pockets between the tooth and the bone. With early detection, like when your dental hygienist and dentist measure pocket depths during routine cleaning visits, and changes in your dental habits, it can stop or slow down the ongoing problem and possibly reverse some of the damage.

However, if changes are not made, or you neglect seeing your dentist, damage will worsen. The bone and gums will continue to recede further away from the tooth and expose more of the tooth structure, creating newly exposed areas for plaque and tartar to form on. In addition, the bacteria in the tartar can infect and cause minor tooth pain and discomfort, such as a new sensitivity to hot or cold.

Further, the inflammation may continue with possible advanced bone loss from around the teeth. Eventually, if no preventative measures are taken, the roots may be fully exposed, with the teeth becoming loose and possibly fall out. Once the disease progresses past the gingivitis stage, there is no way to no long reverse the damage caused. Although, with proper management and care, it is possible to prevent the disease from worsening.

Proper periodontal disease management care often involves an increase in the number of visits to your dentist. Your dentist may recommend coming in for cleanings every three to four months in order to keep plaque and tartar under control. The key to managing and living with periodontal disease is to ensure your teeth are kept clean and reduce gum irritation.

Besides an increase in cleanings, there are also specialized cleaning methods used, depending on the extent of damage. Your hygienist might use a high-pressure “water-pick” device to help keep your gums stimulated and aid in plaque removal. Another form of treatment is called scaling and planing. This treatment is normally performed in a few visits since it requires a longer period of time to perform. There is even certain antibacterial gels and other medicines your dentist or hygienist could apply along the gum line.

The main thing to remember, simply ignoring periodontal disease will not make it go away. It can also increase risks for other conditions, like heart disease and stroke. If you have not been to a dentist in more than a year, there is a good chance you could have gingivitis. Call Dr. Carol Waldman today at 416.445.6000 to schedule an appointment and have a personalized management treatment plan created to manage your periodontal disease.