The leading cause of adult tooth loss is periodontal disease! Take this short quiz and see where you stand:
1. Do my gums bleed when I brush or floss?
2. Are my gums red, tender or swollen?
3. Do I have bad breath or a bad taste in my mouth that does not seem to go away?
4. Do I smoke or chew tobacco?
5. Do I have diabetes or osteoporosis?
6. Do I sometimes skip brushing and/or flossing?
7. Has it been more than 6 months since my last dental visit?
8. Do my teeth feel loose? Are there spaces between my teeth that weren’t there before?
9. Does anyone in my family have periodontal disease?
10. Are there changes in the way my teeth fit together when I bite?
A “yes” answer to any of these questions should make you consider scheduling a dental appointment with your dentist, dental hygienist or a periodontist (gum specialist). This will give them an opportunity to assess the status of your periodontal health.
At that time, a “treatment plan” will be discussed. The only way to confirm a diagnosis of periodontal disease is to have your mouth thoroughly examined including taking the necessary x-rays. A thorough prophylaxis (teeth cleaning) at least twice a year is also recommended. In some cases, depending on individual needs, 3 or 4 month intervals might be suggested.
Once you have been diagnosed by a dental professional with adult periodontitis or any for of progressive periodontal disease, you should receive appropriate treatment as soon as possible to control or prevent further destruction of the supporting structures.
Periodontitis has two components: bacterial infection followed by the body’s production of tissue-destroying enzymes as part of the body’s attempt to fight the infection.
The best way to control periodontal disease is through a two-step process that treats both components, including:
1. Reducing the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
2. Blocking or suppressing the action of the tissue-destroying enzymes released in the gum tissues.
The most common procedure used to eliminate bacteria is an intensive professional cleaning method called scaling and root planing (SRP), during which soft (plaque) and hard (calculus) deposits are removed from the tooth surface above and below the gum line; this includes shaving off a layer of the root surface, which encourages the gum to re-attach to the tooth.