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ORANGE, Calif., November 10, 2016 – It is a topic that many people know all too well: periodontal (gum) disease. Nearly half of American adults over 30 have some form of the disease, according to the Center for Disease Control.

Western Dental & Orthodontics, one of the nation’s leaders in accessible, affordable, high-quality oral health care, is very familiar with treating periodontal disease, a bacterial infection that is caused by an accumulation of toxic bacteria within the pockets of the gums – that area between the gums and teeth.

Periodontal disease ranges from simple gum inflammation to a serious disease that can lead to major damage of the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. The worst-case scenario is the teeth are lost and the disease results in more serious health conditions. However, in all cases gum disease is a treatable condition, and if detected early can be reversed.

Our gums are a reservoir that can harbor bacteria, toxins, and destructive immune products. When gums are infected, these harmful agents enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body to vital organs like the heart, kidneys, pancreas, etc. 

“Western Dental is proactive when it comes to periodontal disease. We educate all of our patients on the topic and the ramifications of what can happen if proper care of the teeth and gums is neglected,” said Dr. John Luther, Western Dental’s Chief Dental Officer. “Whether gum disease gets better or worse depends on whether you go to your dentist for treatment and how closely you follow her recommendations for daily home care of your teeth and gums.”

Western Dental classifies periodontal treatment in four stages.

Stage 1 – Healthy Gums

Symptoms: Gums are pink in color and the gum tissues are closely hugging the teeth.

Treatment: No treatment is needed, other than regularly scheduled cleanings every six months.

Stage 2 – Gingivitis

Symptoms: Early onset of gingivitis (mild gum disease) is taking place. Gums are red, tender and slightly inflamed. Bacteria is starting to multiply within the plaque and build up on the surface of the teeth. If gingivitis goes untreated, the condition may advance to Stage 3, a more aggressive form of the disease.

Treatment: Basic cleaning is performed above the gum line, followed by irrigation of the gums with iodine, teeth polishing, and a fluoride varnish. Patients are given a home care product kit that includes fluoride toothpaste, oral rinse and power toothbrush. Plaque must be removed every day with tooth brushing and dental floss.

Stage 3 – Moderate gum disease

Symptoms: Tender, swollen gums that bleed easily. Bacteria is invading the gum tissues and spreading to underlying bone that supports the teeth. Gums may bleed when probed and may appear swollen.

Treatment: Recommended treatment may include scaling and root planing (a type of deep cleaning), followed by iodine irrigation, fluoride varnish and antibiotic treatment. Patients are provided a home care product kit, which is a key part of the maintenance program.

Stage 4 – Advanced gum disease

Symptoms: Teeth will become loose, spaces will appear between the teeth, and roots will become exposed as further bone is lost. Bacteria and their toxins will now invade the blood vessels in the gum tissue and travel throughout the body’s vital organs, potentially causing other health concerns. Some teeth may need to be extracted.

Treatment: Includes scaling and root planing below the gum line. Iodine irrigation, an antibiotic treatment, teeth polishing (if doctor recommended), and a fluoride varnish is typically applied, along with home care products for ongoing maintenance. Patients need to return in three to four weeks for a “re-care” appointment and be evaluated for referral to a Periodontist for additional care.

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