Almost half of adults aged 30 or older have experienced some form of gum disease according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The risk increases with age with just over 70% of adults aged 65 and older facing this condition. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis, can progress from minor discomfort to full-blown tooth loss.
Gum disease haunts every dental patient because of its common occurrence and subtle presentation. Thankfully, dentists have many tools in their arsenal to identify and combat it in its various stages.
To start, there are different types of gum disease ranging from early onset, known as gingivitis, to late-stage infections such as necrotizing periodontal disease. The treatment provided depends on the stage of disease progression as well as the level of damage that has occurred to the teeth and gumline.
The first line of defense once gum disease has been diagnosed is a nonsurgical procedure known as scaling and root planing (SRP). In effect, the dentist or dental hygienist removes plaque and bacteria from below the gumline, where a toothbrush cannot reach. Sometimes a local anesthetic is administered to ensure the patient’s comfort during the process. Once SRP is completed, the dentist will determine whether further treatment is necessary.
If the gum disease has progressed to severe periodontitis, other treatments may be used to aid in the healing process of the gums and preserve the teeth. For example, a periodontal pocket reduction or flap surgery may need to occur after SRP to make sure that bacteria is prevented from inhabiting the deep pocket area of the gums. The gum tissue is retracted, bacteria is removed, and the gum tissue can successfully reattach to the bone. Gum grafts can also be applied to help remedy exposed roots that result from prolonged disease.
So, can gum disease be cured? Cured is a loaded term that implies an end to the threat of disease. In the case of gum disease, it is helpful to think of it as an ongoing battle. The interventions discussed above can assuage or even eliminate gum disease from a patient, but these treatments offer no guarantee of permanent prevention. Recurrence is always a possibility. When caught early, however, gum disease is manageable.
No discussion of gum disease would be complete without a word on prevention. Like many preventable health issues, gum disease can be avoided by using the same tried and true methods touted by healthcare professionals for ages. Brush and floss. Avoid sugary foods. And, see your dentist regularly. Thriving dental health results from a series of good habits, smart choices, and a watchful eye.
Call Princeton Dental for Aesthetics & Implants to schedule an appointment to evaluate whether gum disease should be treated, 609-924-1414.