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Periodontitis: The Most Common Dental Disease You’ve Never Heard Of

Periodontitis affects over 47% of adults over 30 in the United States, and it can lead to tooth loss. Yet few people know what it is or how to treat it.

You’ve probably heard of gingivitis—or gum disease—from a million mouthwash ads. But you may not have heard of periodontitis.

Think of the two as a progression. If bacteria builds up under your gum line, your gums will become sensitive and inflamed, and they may bleed when you brush. That’s called gingivitis.

If gingivitis isn’t treated, your gums can start to pull away from the structures that support them, and you may suffer bone loss. Ultimately your teeth may loosen or fall out. That’s called periodontitis.

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Periodontitis is a serious disease

Even though it affects almost half of American adults over 30, periodontitis isn’t something that should be taken lightly. It can cause significant discomfort and, if it’s allowed to advance, it can require invasive, costly interventions like surgery.

Periodontitis can’t be cured, but it can be controlled through a combination of diligent at-home care and non-surgical periodontal treatment, a procedure we offer at our studios.

What is non-surgical periodontal treatment?

If you have periodontitis, a typical dental cleaning won’t be helpful, because it doesn’t go far enough below the gum line. It can actually be harmful by allowing bacteria to remain trapped where brushing and flossing can’t reach.

That’s where non-surgical gum treatment comes in. This treatment cleans underneath your gums in areas that can’t be accessed during a typical cleaning.

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Isn’t periodontitis a disease of older people?

People who have heard about periodontitis often think it’s a disease that only older people get. But that’s a misconception. It’s true that the prevalence of periodontal disease increases with age: 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease, per the CDC. But almost half of American adults over 30—47.2%—have periodontitis, showing that it’s very much a disease of the young as well.

How long does non-surgical periodontal treatment take, and what does it cost?

Because non-surgical periodontal treatment is more thorough than a typical cleaning, it requires more time to complete. To be sure we have enough time, we may need you to schedule another one to two visits. Similarly, because this treatment is more complex than a typical cleaning, it may not be fully covered by your insurance, and you may have a higher out-of-pocket cost.

We get that it’s not a great feeling to find out that you have to spend more time and money on a medical issue. (And, like any disease, periodontitis is a medical issue.) But ignoring periodontitis will end up creating more complex problems in the future that are far more time-consuming and expensive to deal with. We want to help you avoid that.

How can I be sure I need this?

If you’re new to Tend and your prior dentist never diagnosed you with periodontitis, we know this can be a lot to process. We want to assure you of two things.

First, Tend practices evidence-based dentistry that’s rooted in the latest clinical research. We have an ethical duty to treat the medical issues we see, and we always adhere to the American Dental Association’s standards.

Second, our dentists don’t make a commission on procedures. They only offer the care you need. You can decide to proceed with any treatment recommendations confident that your interests and your dentists are aligned.

Periodontitis is a serious disease—and needs to be treated

Take advantage of your dentist’s diagnosis to halt your disease before it advances—and restore your mouth to health.

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