gum_disease_illustrationDid you know that around half of all American adults over the age of 30 suffer from periodontal (gum) disease? A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows an alarmingly high percentage of mild, serious, or severe gum disease in Americans. It may be surprising to learn that so many people suffer from gum disease. How can so many people be affected by it and not be doing anything to treat it? Unfortunately, most people don’t know that they are suffering from this oral health problem.

The Diagnosis

The only way to truly know if you are suffering from gum disease is to have your dentist perform a comprehensive examination of your gums. This examination needs to include inspection of your teeth both above and below the gum line. A simple examination that only entails looking at your teeth is not sufficient for diagnosing gum disease, even by the most qualified dentist.

If you think you may be suffering from periodontal disease, seek a consultation from your dentist before it gets worse. In fact, the American Academy of Periodontology recommends you receive a full periodontal examination at least once every year. This examination includes assessment of the current state of your gums, disease risk assessment, and determine if treatment is needed.

The Treatment

There are many treatments available for periodontal disease. It’s important to treat your gum disease before it gets worse. Some of the most common treatments are included below.

  • Prevention: The best treatment for gum disease is to never get it. If you can prevent your gums from decaying in the first place, you won’t have to go through the pain and expenses of treatment. In order to prevent gum disease, follow the standard oral hygiene procedures like brushing and flossing. As mentioned earlier, you will also want to get a comprehensive examination of your gums every year, as well.
  • Non-surgical Treatment: If your gum disease isn’t too serious, it can be treated with non-surgical methods. A professional dental cleaning is the most common treatment for mild gingivitis. This includes a dentist or dental hygienist scraping plaque and tartar from your teeth and gum line. Scaling and root planing are other non-surgical treatments. Scaling involves your dentist scraping plaque and tartar away above and below the gum line. Root planing involves your dentist smoothing out rough patches on your teeth so your gums have a smooth spot on the tooth where they can reattach.
  • Surgical Treatment: If your gum disease is more severe, it may require surgery to correct. Some common surgical procedures include flap surgery, bone grafting, and guided tissue regeneration. Surgical treatment will vary greatly depending on how serious your gum disease is. It’s important to consult with your dentist before surgery to know exactly which procedure will work for you.
  • Medication: Because gum disease is caused by bacteria, antibiotics are sometimes useful for treating the problem. Medication is often used in combination with all of the treatments above, but it can also be used alone. Medication is typically available in the form of a mouth rinse or a small chip that can be placed in gum pockets. You can even purchase a nonprescription tooth paste called triclosan to combat gum disease.

The Results

When you treat your gum disease, you are allowing your oral health to flourish and stay strong for the years to come. Treatments exist for even the most severe cases of gum disease, so don’t be scared to talk to your dentist about what you can do to treat your periodontal issues. In the end, your mouth will thank you for the treatment you choose.