Did you know that nearly 50% of adults in the United States have a form of periodontal disease? With so many individuals experiencing this gum disease, you might be wondering if it’s contagious. You also might be wondering if you have it—or how you can prevent it. Keep reading to learn about this common oral disease, if it’s contagious, and how to prevent and treat it.
If you don’t have time to read the whole blog post, here’s the answer you came here for. Yes, periodontal disease can be contagious. But it’s also preventable and treatable!
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an oral disease that occurs when gingivitis goes unnoticed or untreated. Specifically, this disease is caused by unchecked bacteria that leads to long-term inflammation in the gums and bone that surround teeth. When left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss. Additionally, it has been linked to diabetes and even heart disease. Simply put, gingivitis and gum disease should not be taken lightly!
Is Periodontal Disease Contagious?
Now that you can see how serious periodontal disease can be, you might be even more curious if it is contagious. Yes, periodontal disease is contagious, in that it can spread from one person to another. More specifically, it spreads through saliva, so the chance of contracting periodontal disease from someone increases if you are consistently drinking after them, kissing them, sharing utensils with them, etc.
This does not mean that you are bound to contract periodontal disease if you live in close contact with someone who has it; rather, your risk of contracting it increases. It is the long-term activity, not the occasional interaction, that increases the risk of spreading periodontal disease. The good news is that gum disease is almost always preventable by proper oral hygiene. Keep reading to learn about the symptoms of periodontal disease and how to treat it.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Knowing the symptoms of periodontal disease can help with early detection and treatment. Check out the most common symptoms below, and schedule an appointment with a trusted dentist if you are currently experiencing them, or as soon as you start to experience any of them.
- Chronic bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
How to Prevent Periodontal Disease
The very best treatment for periodontal disease is prevention. And the prevention of gum disease is truly as simple as implementing the basic oral hygiene habits that you’ve likely heard your whole life.
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss daily, or at least every few days
- Use mouthwash daily
- Visit your dentist regularly (at least once a year)
- Don’t share saliva with people who have poor oral hygiene or known gum disease. Specifically, don’t:
- Share utensils
- Share toothbrushes
- Share food or drinks
Don’t underestimate the power of small habits. If you can implement these oral habits into your daily routine, your gums and teeth will thank you. And if you’re keeping up with annual or bi-annual dental exams and cleanings, your dentist will be able to catch the earliest signs of gingivitis before it leads to gum disease.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
In an ideal world, all of us would prevent gum disease by following the oral hygiene guidelines above. But in reality, gum disease happens. And when it does happen, it does not go away on its own. If you currently have or suspect that you have gum disease, rest assured that treatment is available and effective, as long as you seek it. Treatment will depend on the severity of your case.
Mild Gum Disease
If gingivitis has turned into the early stages of periodontal disease, your dentist will most likely recommend several professional cleanings to restore your oral health, paired with scaling and root planing. Scaling removes built-up plaque and tartar on your teeth and in your gums. Root planing smooths your teeth so that gum tissue can heal and reattach to your teeth.
Severe Gum Disease
In severe cases of periodontal disease, surgery may be necessary. Periodontal surgery is an effective way of removing hard-to-reach plaque and reducing the depth of your gum pockets to prevent future disease.
Gum disease is treatable, but without long-term changes to your oral hygiene habits, it can come right back. For this reason, once you have worked with a dentist to restore your gums, it is critical that you implement the prevention methods listed in the previous section to maintain healthy gums and teeth.
Treatment for Gum Disease in Berkeley, CA
Ashby Dental in Elmwood serves families in Berkeley, California, and the surrounding areas with comprehensive and affordable dental services including preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry. We can diagnose and treat periodontal disease at all stages, and our preventative dentistry services can keep your gums healthy so that disease is never an issue to begin with. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.