Face the risk of periodontal disease head on

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Be aware of what goes in your mouth. Whether it be a medication or drinking sugary beverages, it is important to be mindful that these substances can contribute to periodontal disease. Drinks with high sugar content coat the teeth and contribute to increased bacteria in the mouth. If you are one of the millions of people taking regular medication, then check with your doctor, dentist and pharmacist to understand how it may impact your oral health. Xerostomia, commonly called “dry mouth,” can result in decreased saliva in your mouth, a serious concern that can lead to increased dental problems. Talk to your dentist during a regular checkup about your diet and medications.

Despite applying the best dental hygiene habits, some individuals will still develop periodontal disease because of their family history. The American Academy of Periodontology’s treatment guidelines stress that periodontal health should be achieved by the least invasive, non-surgical treatment and most cost-effective manner – a reassuring fact for individuals who have been recently diagnosed. These approaches may include laser treatment, scaling and root planing (which is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus), and follow-up care. 

Don’t be discouraged if you are at risk for periodontal disease, rather, be aware of the risk factors and form life-long hygiene habits to ensure a beautiful smile and long-term oral health. And, above all, keep regular dental appointments.

Joyce A. Rosenthal, D.D.S., is the chairman of the board of directors for Delta Dental of Arizona and has been practicing general dentistry since 1983.

Frequently asked questions about periodontal disease

Is periodontal disease contagious?

Research has shown that periodontal disease is caused by the inflammatory reaction to bacteria under the gums, so periodontal disease is not technically considered contagious. However, the bacteria causing the inflammatory reaction can be spread through saliva. This means that if one of your family members has periodontal disease, it’s a good idea to avoid contact with their saliva by not sharing eating utensils and never sharing a toothbrush.  

Who should treat my periodontal disease: my general dentist or a periodontist?

Instead of leaving your treatment to one dental professional, you should consider having both your general dentist and a periodontist actively involved in the diagnosis and treatment of your periodontal disease. This team approach will help your dentist (who is familiar with your dental and medical history) and your periodontist (who has extensive experience treating periodontal disease) collaborate to tailor a treatment plan that works best for your individual case.

Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is rarely found in children, and only sometimes diagnosed in adolescents. However, children should still learn the importance of keeping their teeth and gums healthy in order to prevent periodontal disease in the future. Children should brush their teeth twice a day and floss daily. If children learn how to floss at an early age, they will be more likely to make it a lifetime habit. These two simple acts will help protect their teeth and gums from periodontal disease.

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