How serious is gum or periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is nothing to sneeze at. One of the questions about periodontal disease is “how serious it is”. Though the advanced stage usually concerns patients enough for them to do something about it, it’s prevention that is key for periodontal disease, as reversing the effects of the disease can be difficult (but possible, thanks to recent technology).

So to help you on your journey toward impeccable oral health, we’ve answered 10 of the most common questions about periodontal disease.

1. How can I prevent gum disease?

You can prevent gum disease in three easy steps. The first step, regular brushing, is a given. The second step is flossing, which is where many people get tripped up, but trust us when we say it will go a long way in preventing periodontitis. Brushing can only access 70% of the surface of your tooth. Can you imagine washing only 70% of your body in the shower or sanitizing only 70% of your dishes?

Regular preventive checkups are step three in gum disease prevention. You need to make sure a trusted dentist is checking for the early stages of periodontitis on a regular basis, so you never have to deal with the negative effects of this troubling disease.

2. What if I didn’t prevent periodontitis? Is it too late?

No, it’s not too late! Thanks to recent advances in treating periodontal disease, an expert periodontist can help you stop the disease in its tracks and even reverse the damaging effects. You want to make sure you find the best periodontist in your area who can cater to your needs.

3. Can gum tissues and bone grow back?

For decades, we have had to say no, gum tissues could not grow back, and for years, the protocol for gum disease was scaling and planing. It was the best we could do. Scaling and planing could save your gums and stop any infections, but it could not bring back the gum tissue or bone you had lost.

Over and over, patients heard that the tissues damaged by periodontal disease could not return to the same state they were in before they were affected. They heard that periodontal disease could only be stopped by scaling and planing, which could not regrow bone or collagen or close the pockets that periodontal disease had opened. But now, Dr. Wilson uses LANAP® technology (a treatment of periodontitis involving laser) to heal the tissues and even regenerate bone. It’s a relatively new technology and is “the only laser-based surgery with FDA clearance for True Regeneration™ to regenerate tissues lost to gum disease.”

4. Does regenerating gum tissue hurt?

Traditional surgery is usually a painful procedure, but LANAP® technology uses a laser, affects only the damaged tissue, and does not require suturing afterward. It’s considerably more comfortable. There is also much less gum recession with LANAP® because of the precision of the laser, which means less discomfort and sensitivity after the procedure because the chances of exposing roots are far less.

5. Can any dentist treat periodontal disease?

Every dentist studies periodontal disease, as its one of the foundational subjects in dental school. But most dentists are qualified only for prevention. If you have a serious case of periodontal disease, you will want to find a periodontist who can actually treat your condition. Check out perio.org to find a qualified periodontist near you.

6. What is the difference between periodontal disease and gingivitis?

Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontal disease. It is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, and is the stage where your gums are inflamed. If you have gingivitis, it’s a good time to sit up and take notice that your gums are speaking to you about your health. Partner with your dentist to prevent gingivitis from turning into periodontal disease. It’s a good idea to see your dentist more often than the typical twice-a-year recommendation.

7. Does periodontal disease lead to any other problems if left unchecked?

Okay, so I know most people are not asking this question. But they should. So we’ll ask (and answer) it for you.

The answer is yes. Periodontal disease has been linked to gum disease, heart disease, and strokes, to name a few. Your gums actually create a barrier to protect the rest of your body from inflammation, and periodontitis slowly pulls  your gums away from your teeth, which allows these harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream.

8. Can you save my teeth?

Yes. Using LANAP® technology, we can actually save your teeth. With traditional scaling and planing, the protocol was to inform patients of the possibility of hopeless teeth, but Dr. Wilson uses LANAP® to “stimulate stem cells in the tissues to form new connective tissues, collagen, and bone.”

After the laser beam kills germs inside the root, tissue, and bone (the LANAP® site compares this to a flashlight shining light through the back of your hand, which is why it is so noninvasive), the stimulation of cells caused by LANAP® laser technology will let your body’s natural healing process begin to regenerate the bone lost to periodontitis.

9. What are the signs of periodontitis?

Here are a few of the signs that can alert you and your dentist to gingivitis or periodontal disease:

  • Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth or floss
  • Bad breath
  • Changes in the position of your teeth or loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Red, tender, or swollen gums
  • A buildup of plaque or tartar on your teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Tooth loss
  • Foul taste in your mouth
  • An inflammatory response throughout your body

Yes, periodontitis can lead to an overall inflammatory response throughout your body. This is why we cannot say it enough—please take every precaution to prevent and treat periodontal disease by seeing your dentist or, if you are experiencing multiple symptoms from the list above, a periodontist. We are here to help and answer every question you have.

10. Is LANAP® surgery effective in treating periodontitis?

Amazingly so. A minimally invasive laser treatment that can often reverse gum disease, the LANAP® protocol is the only treatment scientifically and clinically proven to regenerate both soft tissue and bone.