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Periodontal Disease: Treatment and Prevention

Dr. Brett Hester provides thorough care for periodontal disease at his Valdosta, GA, dental practice to help patients regain and maintain their oral health. Periodontal disease results from a buildup of bacteria in the mouth that cause infection of the gums. It can eventually lead to tooth loss and affect your overall health. If you are experiencing painful, red, or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, painful chewing, loose or sensitive teeth, or longer-looking teeth, you may be suffering from gum disease and should seek treatment as soon as possible.

How Periodontal Disease Progresses

Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease ranges in severity from simple gum inflammation to a serious disorder that damages not only the gums but the bone and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. It begins when plaque, a clear, sticky substance made up of bacteria, sugars, and other particulates, forms a film on the teeth. Brushing and flossing can help get rid of plaque. If plaque is left alone, however, it can harden and form tartar, which can only be removed by professional cleaning. At this stage, plaque and tarter on the teeth can trigger gingivitis. A mild inflammation of the gums, gingivitis can be treated with a professional cleaning and continued good care at home. 

Periodontal disease is a common problem that can become serious without timely care. 

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis. This is a more serious oral condition that causes the gum tissue to recede. As it progresses, pockets of infection form around the teeth and bacteria enters the structures under the gum line. The connective tissue and the bone starts to break down, which can cause your teeth to become loose and eventually fall out or require extraction. Furthermore, periodontal disease is associated with a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, atherosclerosis, and other systemic health problems.

Gum disease is a progressive condition that starts with mild symptoms such as redness and bleeding of the gums, but can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is treated differently depending on its severity. Regular dental visits and cleanings can help remove tartar and identify periodontal disease in the early stages, before it becomes serious. For cases that have progressed beyond treatment with simple oral hygiene, Dr. Hester offers more extensive procedures for deep cleaning your teeth. Advanced cases of gum disease may require surgery to restore your oral health. 

Non-surgical Procedures

Deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing, is an effective treatment for moderate gum disease. This procedure removes the tartar above and below the gum line as well as any diseased cementum (a hard layer of tissue that helps the periodontal ligament attach to the tooth). It also smooths the surface of tooth roots to help prevent buildup of bacteria. Dr. Hester may also prescribe topical or oral antibiotics, or special mouthwashes to help clear the infection. You should follow up your treatment with extra attention to your oral hygiene at home and regular dental checkups.

Surgical Procedures

For advanced cases of periodontitis, gum surgery may be necessary to remove deep-seated plaque and tartar or replace lost bone and gum tissue. Flap surgery lifts back the gums to allow a more extensive deep cleaning. Then the gums are sutured back in place so that the tissue fits more closely against your teeth. Grafts can replace lost gum and bone tissue. Bone grafts are natural or synthetic bone material placed in degenerated areas of the jaw. These grafts are sometimes coupled with growth factors, which are proteins that stimulate your body to grow bone naturally. With a soft tissue graft, tissue from another area of your mouth is used to cover tooth roots exposed by periodontal disease. Dr. Hester will provide you with specific aftercare instructions depending on your procedure.

Schedule Your Consultation

Periodontal disease is a common problem that can become serious without timely care. Fortunately, the condition is highly treatable. To schedule an evaluation with Dr. Hester, please contact us today. 

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Our mission is to make a positive difference in the lives of children, youth, and adults alike by offering the highest-quality dental care in a friendly, relaxed, and caring atmosphere. - Dr. Hester

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