More than half of Americans over the age of 30 suffer from periodontal disease. In fact, gum disease is the leading cause for tooth loss in adults. Periodontal disease patients get very familiar with procedures like scaling and root planing, a type of deep cleaning that’s a lot less fun than it sounds like it would be.
When scaling and root planing isn’t enough, periodontal surgery may be required to improve the integrity of your teeth and gums. And it only gets worse from there. It’s a lot easier to establish good gum maintenance habits now, rather than wait for things to escalate.
Establishing a Maintenance Program
Because each patient starts their treatment at a slightly different stage of periodontal disease, there’s no single treatment plan that’s best for everyone. Your genetics also play a part, so make sure to ask your doctor for their maintenance recommendations based on their observations.
Expect an initial scaling and root planing, along with the potential for oral surgery, when you’re first diagnosed with periodontal disease. Your doctor will want to see you more often than once yearly — possibly every three or four months — depending on how severe your gum disease is.
You’ll likely have a deep cleaning from the hygienist every other visit. It’s not the most fun you can have at the dentist, but it’s a necessary step to slow the progression of your gum disease. Since you can’t really brush in the pockets that are holding bacteria and plaque close to your roots, this is the best solution.
With your teeth freshly cleaned and smoothed out, the dentist will apply an antibiotic to help your gums heal. All of this trouble can be worth it when you don’t have to have an implant to replace the teeth that are decaying in your mouth while you’re putting off having another deep cleaning.
There’s a lot to juggle when you’ve got gum disease. Along with feeling like everyone is suddenly starting at your inflamed gum line, the frequent cleanings and other treatments can create their own struggles. Here’s a short list of the most important things to know today:
No two appointments will be the same. Sometimes you’ll go see your dentist and everything will be lovely and the visit will be very short. Other times, your mouth will be angry and there will be lots of cleaning required. Regardless of what kind of visit it is, you need to keep seeing your dentist. This is the only way they can keep track of your condition.
Your mouth will be tender. The deep pockets that get cleaned during your scaling and root planing procedure are going to be sensitive for a bit afterward. Don’t stop brushing and flossing because of this, you’ll only make your gum disease worse in the long run. Instead brush softly with toothpaste made for sensitive teeth and floss very gently. If you have an electric toothbrush, so much the better! Use any prescription mouthwash you were given as directed.
Commit to better oral hygiene. Whether it’s genetics or your lifestyle that got you into the gum disease boat, you’re there now so it’s time to really step up your brushing and flossing routines. Brush at least twice a day for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste to give your teeth extra protection against the bacteria in your mouth. Also ask your dentist if you should use a different toothbrush or pick up some extra tools to better maintain your oral health.
It can be frustrating and inconvenient to see a doctor on a regular basis, but this is the best way to ensure that you don’t lose any teeth or develop serious infection in your jaw or other parts of your mouth. Your dentist and their team are your support system, they’ll see you through to a point where your gum disease is stable and well beyond if you let them.