ABOUT PERIODONTAL DISEASE

WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

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WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

A: To understand your dental health, you have to look beyond your teeth to the gums, ligaments, and bone that make up the periodontium, which can best be explained as your smile’s foundation. Just like the foundation of your house, the periodontium must be in good working order, or the stability of the whole structure could be compromised.

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an infection of the periodontium caused by the harmful bacteria in plaque, which forms naturally on your teeth. If you suffer from periodontal disease, the soft tissue and bone that wraps around the roots of your teeth may recede and/or deteriorate, forming pockets around your teeth that are ripe for deposits of plaque that cause this bacterial infection. When in optimum oral health, your teeth should be tightly encased in these supportive structures, which prevent the damaging bacteria from having a place to thrive.

Without knowing it, you may be among the 50% of Americans currently suffering with some form of periodontal disease. Often symptoms are not obvious to the uninformed eye, and pain in the teeth or gums is not typically a symptom of the disease until it has progressed to a later stage. For these reasons, it’s vital to watch closely for the signs before it’s too late.

Specifically, you should watch for:
• Bleeding, inflamed, or receding gums
• Persistent bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Pus around teeth
• A change in your bite structure

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult Hutchinson dentist Dr. Steven Wilson as soon as possible. As periodontal disease progresses, more serious problems, including tooth loss, can occur.

THE MOUTH/BODY CONNECTION PREVENTION

It’s important to realize that the health of your smile can also impact your systemic health. In the words of the American Academy of Periodontology, “What happens in your mouth doesn’t necessarily stay in your mouth.” Dr. Wilson and his team are dedicated to continuously learning about new findings to stay up-to-date on the many ways your oral health directly and indirectly affects your overall health.

In particular, research supports the connection between the inflammation associated with periodontal disease and a number of other conditions in the body, including:
• Cardiovascular disease
• Diabetes
• Respiratory diseases
• Complications in pregnancy

Especially if you suffer from any of these conditions, talk to your trusted physicians and dental providers to better understand these concerns.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: WHAT IS A PERIODONTIST?

A: Your teeth are a vital aspect of your overall health, and when serious problems occur, your periodontist is the last line of defense against tooth loss. More specifically, a periodontist is a dental specialist, having completed several years of advanced training beyond the standard dental education.

An expert in all forms of periodontal disease, oral inflammation, and the placement of dental implants, your periodontist can help save your teeth when trauma or disease puts them in danger and can provide lasting restorations for teeth that are already lost and in need of replacement. In the event of periodontal disease, your periodontist can be especially helpful in putting you back on the road to optimal oral health.

Though you can visit a periodontist directly without a referral, periodontists also use advanced techniques and technology in conjunction with your regular dentist to provide the expertise required for both complicated restorative procedures and cosmetic surgeries.

Q: WHAT IS PERIODONTAL DISEASE?

periodontal_pic1A: To truly understand your dental health, you have to look beyond your teeth, to the gums, ligaments, and bone that make up the periodontium, which can best be explained as your smile’s foundation. Just like the foundation of your house, the periodontium must be in good working order, or the stability of the whole structure could be compromised.

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an infection of the periodontium caused by the harmful bacteria in plaque, which forms naturally on your teeth. If you suffer from periodontal disease, the soft tissue and bone that wraps around the roots of your teeth may recede and/or deteriorate, forming pockets around your teeth that are ripe for deposits of plaque that cause this bacterial infection. When in optimum oral health, your teeth should be tightly encased in these supportive structures, which prevent the damaging bacteria from having a place to thrive.

Without knowing it, you may be among the 50% of Americans currently suffering with some form of periodontal disease. Often symptoms are not obvious to the uninformed eye, and pain in the teeth or gums is not typically a symptom of the disease until it has progressed to a later stage. For these reasons, it’s vital to watch closely for the signs before it’s too late.

Specifically, you should watch for:
• Bleeding, inflamed, or receding gums
• Persistent bad breath
• Loose teeth
• Pus around teeth
• A change in your bite structure

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult Dr. Wilson as soon as possible. As periodontal disease progresses, more serious problems, including tooth loss, can occur.

Q: MY GUMS BLEED. WHY IS THIS?

periodontal_pic2A: Gums affected by periodontal disease become red and inflamed, possibly bleeding during brushing or flossing. Timely treatment can reverse these conditions. However, if these conditions are ignored, your periodontal disease can worsen, becoming a condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat.

Periodontitis affects your gums, bone, and teeth in a manner that cannot be reversed. To prevent tooth loss, you may require more extensive, specialized treatment from your general dentist or even from a periodontist like Dr. Wilson. If left untreated, periodontitis results in tooth loss ― teeth either fall out on their own or must be extracted. If you don’t diagnose and treat periodontitis in its early stages, you may require extensive surgery to save your teeth and may put yourself at risk for other serious health problems.

Q: I BRUSH EVERY DAY, BUT MY BREATH IS JUST NOT IS JUST NOT FRESH. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO?

A: Millions of people struggle with halitosis, or bad breath, despite daily teeth brushing. Here is a checklist of procedures that can eliminate the problem: twice daily brushing and daily flossing and tongue cleaning; regular professional cleanings; and, careful cleaning of any dentures or removable dental appliances. However, if your hygiene is meticulous and the problem persists, we can offer several solutions.

First, we can provide a plastic tool called a tongue scraper that cleans away bacterial build-up on your tongue, significantly alleviating odor. Or, we can recommend a specially-prepared rinse or toothpaste designed to actually breakdown the odor-causing sulfur bonds that cause bad breath. Finally, we may suspect a systemic or internal problem, such as an infection or underlying condition, in which case we may recommend a visit with your family physician or specialist to identify the cause.

Q: I KNOW I NEED X-RAYS, BUT I PREFER NOT TO BE EXPOSED TO UNNECESSARY RADIATION. DO YOU OFFER DIGITAL X-RAYS?

A: Yes, we do offer digital X-rays (radiographs). Digital X-rays use less radiation and are safer for you than traditional film-based X-rays. You will find that Dr. Wilson researches the latest trends in technology to find the solutions that promote your overall health, safety, and comfort.

Q: HOW DOES FLUORIDE HELP MY TEETH?

periodontal_pic3A: Research shows that fluoride reduces cavities in both children and in adults by halting tooth decay. It also helps repair the early stages of tooth decay even before the decay becomes visible. Interestingly, many people continue to be  misinformed about fluoride and fluoridation. Fluoride is a safe chemical component when used correctly. When your dentist applies fluoride to your teeth, usually in the form of a fluoride varnish, gel, or foam, that fluoride is more concentrated than the fluoride contained in toothpaste or mouthwash. The ADA recommends that dental professionals use any of the professional strength, fluoride varnish, gel, or foam products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

Q: HOW CAN LOSING A BACK TOOTH AFFECT MY SMILE?

A: Losing a back tooth will darken your overall smile, making it look smaller and narrower. Your smile will appear to stop short, and the look will be exaggerated if your missing tooth has teeth on both sides of it. Function during chewing will be reduced, and function of many teeth can be affected by losing just one tooth. When you are missing a tooth, you compensate by chewing differently, putting pressure on different parts of your mouth. This can cause your other teeth to shift, creating gaps and spaces and may even cause fractures that result in additional tooth loss or in the need for restorations.

Q: WHAT ARE MY OPTIONS FOR REPLACING A MISSING TOOTH?

A: By replacing missing teeth, either with a bridge or with an implant, you will alleviate the problems associated with missing a tooth and will restore your smile to its beautiful, full appearance.

A bridge is one solution for replacing a tooth. By using neighboring teeth as the supportive structure, your dentist places a porcelain restoration into the vacant space, restoring the functionality and look of your smile. A dental implant is also an excellent solution and does not involve cutting down adjacent teeth. Dental implants involve the placement of a titanium post directly into the jawbone. Once the post has bonded to the bone, it can act as a new, solid support for a natural looking, porcelain restoration. Implants can replace a single tooth or an entire set of teeth, offering more function and permanence than traditional dentures.

Q: WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM MY FIRST APPOINTMENT?

A: Your first visit with Dr. Wilson is an important time to get to know your new dental team. At your first appointment, Dr. Wilson will perform a careful, gentle, and complete periodontal evaluation, which lasts about an hour.

This includes:
• X-rays (if needed)
• Dental impressions for study models (if needed)
• An oral cancer screening
• A thorough discussion with Dr. Wilson about your diagnosis and your possible treatment options
• An opportunity to have your questions and concerns answered

Note: For complex cases, a second consultation is necessary following Dr. Wilson’s meeting with your general dentist in order to develop your treatment plan.

Q: DO YOU ACCEPT NEW PATIENT REFERRALS?

A: Over the years, patients have given us the compliment of referring family and friends to our practice. Our reputation for excellent dental care depends on two things ― our good work and your beautiful smile! Your confidence in our care motivates us to continue to strive for excellence. Thank you for your referrals; your trust and support are greatly appreciated.

Q: MY TEETH KEEP CHIPPING AND CRACKING. WHAT CAUSES THIS, AND WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?

periodontal_pic4A: Many people who notice chipped or cracked teeth, but who don’t remember when the injury occurred, damaged their teeth while they were sleeping. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the night will cause them to chip, crack, and even break. It can also cause gums and bones to recede. To keep you from seriously damaging your teeth and gums, we recommend a dental appliance called a night-guard. A custom-fitted nightguard protects you from grinding and clenching your teeth in your sleep. Do you suffer from headaches? If so, you may also find that a side benefit of your nightguard is headache prevention. Many headaches start during the night, caused by the extreme pressure generated as you grind and clench your teeth. Ask your general dentist about a custom nightguard.

Q: I WANT AND NEED A LOT OF DENTAL WORK, BUT I'M AFRAID I CAN'T AFFORD IT. DO YOU OFFER MONTHLY PAYMENT PLANS?

A: Yes, we do offer monthly payment plans through our financial partner, CareCredit™. We provide a variety of ways for you to pay for your treatment so that it fits comfortably into your personal or family financial goals. Our team works with you to create the solution that best accommodates you so you can have the beautiful, healthy smile you have always desired.

Q: WHAT DIFFERENT PAYMENT OPTIONS DO YOU PROVIDE?

A: You can pay for your office visits at the time of treatment with the following options:
• Cash
• Check
• Credit or debit card

We also accept most major dental insurances and CareCredit™. To discuss your payment options or your insurance coverage, please call 620-665-5200 or 866-659-2343.

Dr. Wilson and his team make every effort to reduce the cost of your periodontal and dental implant care. To keep the cost of billing down, please make your payment at the time of your office visit. If you have any questions, please ask our office manager.

While office financing is not available, the business team will assist you in establishing payment arrangements with companies that offer medical-dental treatment financing plans. Some plans provide financing for up to 7 years, much like a car loan.
 
CareCredit™
3-, 6-, 12-, or 18-month, no-interest payment plans, as well as low interest and extended payment plans, are available through our financial partner, CareCredit™.

Insurance Assistance
As a courtesy, your insurance claims will be filed for you. In order to submit an accurate claim, it is important that you keep us informed of your current insurance information.

Please note that many insurance companies do not provide fees until after the treatment is completed. So, it is sometimes difficult to accurately estimate your insurance co-payment before treatment is rendered.

Upon receipt of an insurance payment, any balance due is billed to you. A refund is issued when you have a credit balance.

Dr. Wilson is a contracted preferred provider with the following insurance companies:
• Delta Dental
• Blue Cross and Blue Shield
• Cigna
• Guardian
• Aetna
• Humana/CompBenefits

Q: AS AN OLDER ADULT, DO I REALLY NEED TO WORRY ABOUT MY DENTAL CARE?

A: Yes. No matter what your age, you deserve to look and feel healthy. A strong, beautiful, and functioning smile plays a major role in the quality of your life as you age. You’ll appreciate a better diet, a younger appearance, and greater  confidence. Perhaps you have put dental care off for so long that you believe it no longer matters. Not true! We can treat and improve virtually any dental condition. Some conditions are even reversible…even in mature adults!

Even though there are few limitations on how old you can be to receive restorative dental care, it is always best to act sooner rather than later. You may enjoy your new, healthy smile ten, 20, or 30 years or more, and you can save yourself from having to undergo more complicated, intrusive care down the road.

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