Can Periodontal Disease Be Reversed?
As with any serious health condition, early intervention is key to the successful treatment of periodontal disease. Gum disease varies in severity from gingivitis, a relatively mild form of inflammation, to periodontitis and advanced periodontitis – serious and chronic conditions that can lead to loss of teeth and other major problems.
More than 50 percent of people in the U.S. over the age of 30 suffer from periodontitis, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. However, gum disease can be reversed, but this entails recognizing the warning signs.
The initial stages of gingivitis can be painless, so it’s important to be aware of symptoms such as persistent bad breath or bleeding gums. A more serious gum infection may result in loose teeth, receding gums, and pus around the teeth and gums.
If allowed to develop, infection of the gums can spread as harmful bacteria use your mouth as an entry point to launch an onslaught on your body’s immune system, targeting vital organs like the heart and lungs.
How You Can Fight Off Gingivitis
Gingivitis, which is caused by a build-up of bacteria-laden plaque and tartar on the surface of teeth near the gum line, is definitely reversible. Detecting and treating gingivitis in its early stages will prevent the disease from progressing to become a threat to teeth and the bones of the mouth.
A regular routine of oral hygiene is essential to reverse gingivitis and ensure it doesn’t return. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush twice daily and flossing at least once a day will go a long way in keeping bacterial plaque at bay.
Another simple measure you can take to help reverse gingivitis – particularly if your mouth tends to be dry – is to drink plenty of water to stimulate production of saliva, which washes microbes asway from your gums and teeth. Regular use of an anti-bacterial mouthwash will also help to fight oral bacteria.
What you eat can play an important role in reversing gum disease and boosting your overall immune system. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), a professional association of dentists in the U.S. and Canada, recommends a nutrition-rich diet of fruit, meat, vegetables and fish, and dairy and whole-grain products.
If you smoke and have early signs of gingivitis, this is a good time to try to kick the habit. Smokers are particularly susceptible to gum infections, and smoking makes it harder for inflamed gums to heal.
Importance of Regular Professional Cleaning and Periodontic Assessments
Although the above measures will help to reverse periodontal disease, it’s imperative to consult your dentist as soon as you detect any of the symptoms of gingivitis.
In any case, you should make sure you visit your dentist for regular check-ups. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) advocates an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) for all adults, to identify any indications of gum disease and enable early intervention. A thorough periodontal assessment will also check the state of your teeth, your bite, oral bone structure, and risk factors such as age and whether you smoke.
It’s also a good idea to schedule regular professional cleanings with your dentist or dental hygienist. These sessions will get rid of accumulations of plaque and tartar that brushing alone cannot remove, preventing bacteria from finding a hiding place long enough to cause gum disease.
Are You at Greater Risk of Developing Gingivitis?
Regular cleanings and periodontal evaluations are even more important if you are at particular risk of developing gingivitis.
With aging, gums can become weak, especially if you smoke, leading to a greater risk of periodontal disease. Women are also at increased risk of gum disease during pregnancy and menopause, due to hormonal changes that affect the body’s response to bacteria. People with certain medical conditions, including heart problems and diabetes, are also in greater danger of developing periodontal disease.
Reversing Periodontitis and Advanced Periodontitis
If gingivitis has progressed to the more severe condition of periodontitis or advanced periodontitis, you will certainly need professional help to reverse the problem. Your dentist will be able to determine the severity of your condition and draw up a plan of treatment to reverse it.
Early periodontal disease can be treated with a minimally-invasive deep cleaning procedure. This involves scaling – more thorough than a standard cleaning – followed by root planing under local anesthetic to remove tartar and plaque beneath the gum line.
Scaling is carried out with traditional metal instruments or ultrasonic technology, or a combination of both methods. Root planing smooths the surface of the root of the tooth so the gums can re-attach to it effectively.
After-effects of scaling and root planing are usually minimal. Your mouth may be sore for a few days, and some patients experience swelling and bleeding.
Surgical Options and Dental Implants
When periodontal disease has become advanced, it poses a risk of serious issues including tooth and bone loss. Several procedures may be necessary to reverse the effects of advanced periodontitis and replace any lost teeth.
Surgical options include bone or soft tissue grafts and a procedure called flap surgery or pocket reduction that folds back gum tissue to remove the bacteria beneath.
Dental implants – tooth root replacements that provide a base for removable or permanent artificial teeth – can be fitted to replace missing teeth, as an alternative to traditional dentures and dental bridges.
An implant entails inserting a small titanium post into the bone socket of missing teeth. The jaw bone grows back around the implant, fixing it firmly in the jaw. When the implant has bonded to the bone, an abutment is fitted that will hold the new tooth securely. A crown is then attached to the abutment.
Yes, Periodontitis is Reversible!
While early intervention typically guarantees a successful outcome in the treatment of gingivitis and periodontal disease, improvements in dental procedures and developments in modern dental technology give patients with advanced periodontitis a better chance than ever before of reversing the problem.
So, the short answer to our question “Can periodontitis be reversed?” is: Yes. However, once your course of treatment has been completed, it is crucial that you follow the advice of your dentist or periodontic specialist in order to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Contact Spokane Dental for guidance on the prevention of gingivitis, and periodontitis.