We Answer Your Periodontal Disease Questions
Most of us have heard of gum disease, but what happens when that condition becomes worse? As gum disease becomes more severe, we refer to it as “periodontal disease.” This serious condition requires attention from a dental professional as soon as possible. Fortunately, Laurel, MD residents can look to the team at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry for quality care. Our staff of hygienists and periodontists can evaluate your condition and address any concerns. We always receive questions from our valued patients, and we want to ensure the facts are readily available. Below, we’ve answered some of our most frequently asked questions about periodontal disease. Use this as a starting point to gain information on the condition, then reach out to us for further details.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is another term for severe gum disease. This condition often starts out mild with gingivitis. However, over time, the condition will worsen. Eventually, this bacterial infection will wreak havoc on the fibers and bone around your teeth. Pockets begin to form around the teeth, and the gums appear to separate from the surface of the tooth. As the pockets become larger, more bacteria can take hold and collect in your mouth. Left untreated, the damage done to the gums can lead to tooth loss.
What Is a Periodontist?
A periodontist is a dental professional who has extensively studied gum disease. They have the expertise to diagnose and treat severe gum disease, as well as help patients prevent the condition. Periodontists are also experienced with dental implants and can offer suggestions for best maintenance practices. While periodontists have a well-rounded dental education, they also have an additional two years of schooling after dental school.
Are There Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
If you suspect you are developing periodontal disease, be sure to be on the lookout for several signs and symptoms. Some will be obvious, such as receding gums and pus between the teeth and gums. However, other symptoms may be easy to write off at first. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule a periodontal exam at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry:
- Oral inflammation
- Red or swollen gums
- Excessive bleeding with brushing or flossing
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Sores developing in the mouth
- Changes in your bite or how your dentures fit
Do Periodontal Exams Hurt?
If you have a fear of the dentist, you’re not alone. Many people have lots of anxiety before getting in the dentist’s chair, worried the procedure will be painful. However, the team at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry wants you to be as comfortable as possible. We work to be as gentle as possible during periodontal exams. Most patients report no or minimal discomfort. If you’re still apprehensive about the exam, be sure to ask us about sedation dentistry.
What Can I Expect at My Appointment?
When you visit us for your appointment, you’ll be greeted with friendly and knowledgeable staff. We welcome any questions and concerns. If this is your first visit, please bring a list of medications with dosage listed and a list of vitamins and supplements you regularly take. Please bring your dental insurance cards and forms as well for a streamlined process. Our team will let you know of any other materials you need to bring for special circumstances. Once you arrive at the dentist’s chair, you can expect an in-depth evaluation of your oral health and dental history. We’ll check for signs of bone loss, abnormal bite, oral cancer, and periodontal disease symptoms. If your referring doctor did not provide x-rays, we might take some of our own.
What Non-Surgical Treatment Options Do I Have?
Most patients benefit from non-surgical periodontal treatment. At our practice, we often recommend scaling and root planing. This procedure deep-cleans the surfaces of the teeth, more so than a typical dental cleaning. Our periodontists will remove plaque and calculus buildup that has gathered in the periodontal pockets. In addition to cleaning, we’ll smooth the tooth roots and apply antibiotics during the procedure. After scaling and root planing, you’ll likely need to keep up a specific oral hygiene regimen. Our team will make sure you have all the information to successfully care for your teeth at home. Be sure to return for frequent checkups so we can ensure your periodontal disease doesn’t progress further.
Do I Need Periodontal Surgery?
If your condition is too advanced to be addressed with scaling and root planing, we may recommend a surgical method. You have a few options when it comes to these procedures. Our periodontists will help you choose the strategy best suited to your needs. Here are a few methods we may suggest:
- Pocket Reduction: During this procedure, your dental surgeon will work to close the gaps that have developed between your teeth and gums. Once these pockets are closed, bacteria have a harder time taking hold in your mouth. The surgery involves pulling back the gum tissue and deep cleaning the area of bacteria. Sometimes, your periodontist will also smooth the surface of the bone.
- Soft Tissue Grafts: Receding gums can be addressed with soft tissue grafting. As a part of this procedure, gum tissue is taken from another area in your mouth or a donor and used to cover the exposed portions of the tooth. After the procedure, patients enjoy less tooth sensitivity and a more natural cosmetic appearance.
- Regeneration: New technology allows periodontists to use regeneration strategies to restore your smile. Dental surgeons can use bone grafts to promote the regeneration of any gum and bone tissue you may have lost to periodontal disease.
Will I Keep My Natural Teeth?
In many cases, you will be able to keep your natural teeth. However, instances of severe gum disease may cause you to lose your teeth. If this is your circumstance, our team will recommend options to restore your smile. Many patients opt for dentures, but dental implants are widely known as the best option. Dental implants perfectly mimic the appearance and function of natural teeth, so no one ever has to know they aren’t natural.
Why Is Periodontal Treatment Important?
Prompt periodontal treatment is imperative to avoid additional problems. While the beginning stages of the condition may not be uncomfortable, you can find yourself in more pain as time goes on. Refraining from treatment may also result in losing teeth and the need for dentures or dental implants. Some studies have even linked gum disease with other conditions, such as arthritis. Regardless of the severity of your current condition, we urge you to seek professional advice at the first sign of gum disease.
How Can I Prevent Severe Gum Problems?
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do at home to reduce your risk of serious gum problems. First, take a look at your oral hygiene regimen. Make sure you’re brushing for at least two minutes twice a day and floss daily. Ask your dentist about which fluoridated toothpastes to use, and don’t forget to brush along the gums. In addition to your everyday brushing and flossing, consider some lifestyle changes that can protect your gum health. Develop a healthy diet low in sugary foods that can increase plaque buildup, and ask your doctor if any of your prescribed medications can promote plaque buildup. Don’t neglect regular dental checkups, either. Visiting Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry frequently means we’ll be able to detect the early warning signs of periodontal disease before the condition becomes advanced.
Does Insurance Cover the Costs?
Many patients find that their insurance policies cover the costs of periodontal treatment. Our staff is happy to work with you to figure out how much your insurance covers. While some plans may not pay for the procedure in full, you may get a significant discount. We can help you navigate your policy, but ultimately, you are responsible for knowing what’s included in your plan.
Reach Out to Us for More Information
If you have a question about periodontal treatment that wasn’t addressed above, our staff is happy to chat with you. We’re also here to explain any of the above processes and procedures in greater detail. Whatever concerns you have about severe gum disease, diagnosis, and treatment options, the team at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry can put your mind at ease. Contact us today at our Laurel, MD dental office.