When is it Too Late to Treat Periodontal Disease?

When is it Too Late to Treat Periodontal Disease?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: August 21st, 2023 Category:

It’s never too late to treat periodontal disease. In fact, gum disease will only worsen the longer you delay treatment.

Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. over 30 exhibit some form of periodontal disease or periodontitis. But the percentage skyrockets to 70 percent for those 65 and older. Is it too late to treat gum disease at those advanced ages?

Definitely not! Simply put, it’s never too late to treat gum disease and get your gums healthy, especially since untreated periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. Brush up on the signs of periodontitis and start treatment as soon as possible to preserve your teeth.

Gum disease and its stages

Like many chronic conditions, gum disease progresses through stages as bacterial infection inflames the gum tissue and weakens the bones supporting the teeth. Poor dental hygiene allows bacteria and plaque to build up on the teeth and gums. Smoking, diabetes, and genetics are other risk factors for gum disease.

Eventually, the bacteria and plaque convert to hardened tartar, further irritating and weakening the gum and bone tissue. Gingivitis, the earliest, mildest form of gum disease, causes swollen gums and bleeding when brushing. But at that point, the damage has not reached the gums and bones. Brushing and flossing regularly, along with a thorough dental cleaning to remove tartar and bacteria, can reverse gingivitis.

If gingivitis isn’t treated, gum disease advances to periodontitis, the most severe form of the condition. Excessive gum bleeding, swelling, bad breath, and seeping pus along the gum line are symptoms of advanced periodontitis. Severe gum recession that leaves noticeable pockets between the tooth and gum line is another characteristic of gum disease. Unchecked inflammation also erodes the gum and bone tissue, leading to loose and possibly lost teeth. Yet even advanced gum disease can be managed with therapy.

When is it time to treat gum disease?

The answer is now! Periodontitis only worsens the longer it goes untreated. Tooth loss becomes a definite possibility when gum disease isn’t treated. But treatment can prevent that.

When caught early, gingivitis can be reversed with scaling and root planing. The dentist removes bacteria under the gun line in this two-step, non-surgical procedure. Then, in root planing, the root of the tooth is cleaned so bacteria can no longer gather there.

A study of 1,182 patients with adult periodontitis found that scaling and root planing, as well as antimicrobial medication, treated the condition successfully in 39 percent of the cases. The study noted, however, that smoking negatively affected the outcome.

In the latter stages, periodontitis can be effectively managed with surgical techniques. One of the most common is flap surgery. During this procedure, the dentist makes a tiny incision in the gums, lifts the tissue, and cleans the tooth root. The gums are stitched back in place, and the gums regenerate.

A gum tissue graft can patch the gap between the gum and tooth. Gum tissue is taken either from the roof of the mouth or a tissue bank. 

Lost bone can be replaced with a bone graft. The bone graft comes from the patient’s body, synthetic bone material, or donated bone. Another way to regenerate bone tissue is with a biocompatible membrane placed between the bone and tooth. The membrane encourages bone growth while keeping unwanted tissue from growing in the space.

How to prevent gum disease

Even though gum disease can be treated, you’ll want to prevent it at all costs. And periodontitis is avoidable with excellent oral hygiene:

Brush daily. Brushing after meals with fluoride toothpaste removes the bacteria and plaque that cause gum disease.

Floss daily. To remove bacteria and food particles hidden between teeth, floss your teeth every night. Gargling with mouthwash whisks away bacteria in those hard-to-reach places, too.

Know your risk factors. If you have family members with gum disease or a condition such as diabetes that puts you at higher risk, talk to your dentist about getting extra treatments to prevent periodontitis.

Get a professional dental cleaning. Although bacteria and plaque can be cleared away by brushing, tartar can only be removed by a dental hygienist. Schedule those dental cleaning appointments twice yearly to keep your gums healthy and free of gum disease.

We care about your teeth and gums

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s La Mesa location today! Our highly trained dentists can treat gum disease at any stage. Don’t live near our La Mesa, CA, office? Find one of our other locations near you.

La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Pkwy. 
Suite 102 
La Mesa, CA 91942