ABOUT PERIODONTAL DISEASESusie Shin Dental Care
Periodontal Disease Treatment in San Francisco
Dr. Susie Shin offers various treatment options for those suffering from periodontal disease in San Francisco.
According to the CDC (Center of Disease control), Periodontal disease affects nearly 50% of people age 30 years old. The rates increase to 70% by the time you are in your mid-sixties. Periodontal disease is usually painless, and many people are unaware of the damage being caused by this silent condition. Periodontal disease is gradual, persistent, and can even be related to many other health conditions!
What does periodontal disease feel like?
Often, patients with periodontal disease will not notice any symptoms early on. It is typically painless, since it is chronic and constant. Symptoms of periodontal disease can include, but are not limited to: red, puffy gums that bleed easily when brushing and flossing, gum recession and exposed tooth roots, tooth sensitivity, bad breath or taste in your mouth, tooth movement and shifting, bone loss seen in x-rays, and even tooth loss. Even with good oral hygiene at home, periodontal disease can still be actively infecting your gums and bone in areas difficult to keep clean.
What causes Periodontal Disease?
Bacteria, heredity, and immune system response are what lead to periodontal disease. When the bacteria in our mouth (plaque) is allowed to accumulate on our teeth, it begins to migrate into the pocket of gum tissue around the tooth. In response to the bacteria, our immune system increases vascularity in our mouths to allow our white blood cells to fight the bacteria. This increase in vascularity accounts for the red, puffy, tender gums, and the tissues bleed more easily than healthy tissues. While this bacteria sits undisturbed in the gum pocket being attacked by our white blood cells, dead bacteria and endotoxins build up in the gum tissues, causing damage and destruction. The pockets get deeper as the bacteria destroys the gums and supportive bone, making it even more difficult to keep the pockets clean of bacteria. Though genetics and preexisting diseases can increase a persons susceptibility to damage by bacteria and increasing the likelihood of developing periodontal disease, the cause of periodontal disease is ultimately bacterial-related. Preventing and treating periodontal disease starts with bacterial plaque control.
How do you treat periodontal disease?
Typically, the first step in treating periodontal disease is having a “deep cleaning” done. This allows your hygienist to clean out the bacteria embedded deep in your gum pockets, and smooth the surfaces to reduce future bacteria accumulation. Often times, your hygienist will use laser therapy after the deep cleaning to kill residual bacteria, reduce inflammation, reduce bleeding, and promote quicker healing. Other conjunctive therapies include medicinal rinses, and placement of antibiotics in the healing gum tissues.
Why can't I just have my teeth cleaned?
A typical dental cleaning is for people who have an overall healthy mouth, and do not have active periodontal disease. A regular cleaning and exam is to prevent and detect periodontal disease, cavities, and other conditions. People who have periodontal disease are in an infected state, and the infection needs to be treated. A regular dental cleaning will not address the condition, and not treating it will allow it to worsen.
Following treatment, good oral hygiene on a daily basis is essential to preventing periodontal disease from continuing to damage your mouth. Since bacterial accumulation is the ultimate cause of periodontal disease, effective brushing and flossing is the only thing that will keep bacteria from cropping up. Electric toothbrushes have been shown to reduce plaque up to 90% better than a traditional manual toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are also more gentle on the gums, preventing worsening of recession. Flossing is also essential to keeping bacteria from accumulating between the teeth. Traditional string floss may not be able to get to the bottom of deep gum pockets, which is crucial in preventing disease relapse. Using a water flosser (such as a Waterpik) will clean deeper into the pockets, and flush out deep bacteria about 60% better than string floss. In addition to excellent home care, returning for maintenance cleanings every 3-4 months is important to allow us to maintain and monitor your disease state, and address it immediately if there is relapse.