February is Gum Disease Awareness Month!
In addition to National Children’s Dental Health Month, February has also been designated as Gum Disease Awareness Month. Established in 2012 by the Institute for Advanced Laser Dentistry, this national and global effort aims to raise public awareness about the prevalence of gum disease (or periodontal disease) and consequences of untreated disease, while encouraging patients to take an active role in better oral health through prevention, diagnosis and treatment.But first: what IS periodontal disease?
Periodontitis is the scientific term for ‘gum disease’. It’s a severe infection that seriously damages your soft tissue and can destroy the bone that supports your teeth, if not properly treated. This typically leads to loose teeth or tooth loss. The good news is that it’s highly preventable and generally occurs due to poor oral hygiene. Brushing twice per day & flossing daily, along with regular dental checkups, can greatly reduce your chances of ever developing periodontitis.
Facts about gum disease:
- Gum disease is known as a “silent” disease. According to Fight Gum Disease, less than 60% of people with gum disease even know they have it because early symptoms can be easy to miss.
- Anyone can get gum disease. It’s often associated with older people, but the truth is that children, and even pets, can get gum disease.
- Gum disease can be contagious. Unfortunately, you can spread germs to others by sharing food or drinks, or even kissing! So be extra mindful of your own oral health and hygiene as well as the health and hygiene of those you’re close with.
- If you have chronic bad breath, you may have gum disease. We all suffer from occasional morning breath, but if you’re consistently noticing a pungent odor coming from your mouth, then it’s in your best interest to contact your dentist.
- Gum disease is linked to other health conditions. From diabetes and Alzheimer’s to cardiovascular health and many others, it’s important to understand how gum disease can impact and is impacted by various areas of your body, as well as how it connects to other health-related conditions.
- Gum disease can be hereditary. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there is research to suggest that genetics can impact your susceptibility to gum disease. Even if your oral health habits and hygiene routine are on point, you may still be at risk. This is just another reason as to why it’s important to schedule regular checkups with your dentist.
Gum Disease Treatment
There are different ways in which gum disease can be treated. Here’s a snapshot of some of the periodontal procedures and treatment services that we offer at Highland Dental Group:
- Dental Implants: A dental implant is like an artificial tooth root that is similar in shape to a screw. Unlike other forms of dental prostheses, dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone to provide a much more natural look & feel to your tooth.
- Extractions: This is the official term for “pulling” teeth. It’s actually one of the most common dentistry procedures performed, along with fillings and cleanings. Most extractions can be performed in our office. However, we do refer extremely complicated extractions to an oral surgeon.
- Deep Cleaning: Technically known as ‘scaling and root planing’, this procedure is considered surgical because it involves removing unwanted debris (calculus or tartar and plaque) from the tooth or teeth below the gumline. However, in reality, it is just the scraping or “scaling” of the teeth that we’ve all likely experienced above the gumline during a regular cleaning. The term “deep cleaning” is used because the scaling occurs below the gumline. Since it is below the gumline, we usually recommend the use of local anesthesia to numb the area.
- Root Surface Debridement (RSD): Often likened to “deep cleaning” or “root-planing”, RSD is actually a more involved procedure. It requires careful & deliberate removal of calculus and plaque from the root surface. When healthy, the gum surrounding your tooth will fit in a small space, approximately 1-3mm; however, in active gum disease, the space enlarges and forms a dental pocket where bacteria, plaque and calculus build up. This can lead to gum inflammation and, eventually, gum disease. RSD is a procedure that goes deep into the periodontal pocket in an effort to clean the root surface while removing bacterial toxins. It’s often performed under local anaesthesia for patient comfort with hand instruments and an ultrasonic device.
As always, we are here to answer any questions or address any concerns that you may have regarding gum disease or any dental health matter. When in doubt, reach out to us and schedule a checkup!
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