Periodontal Disease

The toughest thing we deal with in a dental office on a regular basis is periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease is usually slow progressing and overtime leads to loss of bone that supports the teeth. The signs of periodontal disease are subtle and generally not painful until the later stages.

Why is periodontal disease so difficult to treat? It is a chronic condition that needs routine regular care. The frequency and continuity of care is important so that the bacteria that causes periodontal disease remain in check.  Comparing the two x-rays its easy to see the difference in the bone between severe periodontal disease and healthy mouth, an extreme example but this is where we don’t want to end up.

The first step tperiodontal-diseasehealthy-teetho treatment is a deep cleaning that removes all the plaque and bacteria on the teeth. This way we start with a clean slate and can hopefully promote healthy bacteria in the mouth.

After a thorough cleaning we recommend 3 month recalls in order to keep the teeth clean. Everyone is different and so from there we evaluate whether a continued 3 month recall would be best or going to 4 month recalls. Which adds up to 3-4 periodontal maintenance visits per year (1-2 additional visits compared to someone without periodontal disease).

The stages of periodontal disease have to do with the amount of bone loss around the teeth. We measure the height around the teeth and are looking for 1-3mm around the tooth as signs of healthy tissue. When we start to see 4mm, 5mm, 6mm pockets it is a lot harder for you to keep your teeth clean. Once we go beyond 6mm pockets the long term prognosis of the tooth comes into question because the tooth can become loose.

What contributes to periodontal disease? Anything that slows natural healing will also slow healing in the mouth. Things such as diabetes and smoking will make periodontal disease progress quicker.

Periodontal disease can be kept in check and we can maintain the bone that is there. It requires consistent treatment and routine visits like clockwork so it does not get out of control. There in lies the problem with periodontal disease, our lives are busy and if it doesn’t hurt it is not at the forefront of the things we need to do. Time quickly slips away from us and periodontal disease is not nice to our teeth with when neglected.

We routinely have patients tell us they wish they would have taken better care of their teeth when they were younger. Do yourself a favor and make time for you and your teeth.

 

 

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