If you’ve ever wondered if periodontal disease is contagious, you’re in the right place. To understand whether periodontal disease is contagious, you have to know more about the disease. We’ll be discussing:
- The disease
- Its common symptoms
- What causes it
- How to prevent it
- Treatment options
- Whether or not it is contagious
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection that affects your gums and bone tissue around your teeth. It can cause gums to become red, swollen, and tender to the touch. In some cases, it can also lead to tooth loss.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, occurring when plaque builds up on your teeth and below the gum line. Gingivitis isn’t usually painful, but if left untreated, it can progress into a more serious stage: called periodontitis.
In periodontitis, bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed. This infection slowly eats away at the connective tissue that holds your teeth in their sockets. As this happens, it becomes harder for you to clean between your teeth properly, so more plaque accumulates—leading to more inflammation and, eventually, bone loss around your teeth.
This is why it’s so important to get treatment as soon as possible if you think you may have periodontitis.
What Causes Gum Disease?
You may develop periodontal disease if:
- You have poor oral hygiene, such as brushing, using mouthwash, and flossing regularly
- You don’t visit the dentist for checkups and cleanings on a regular basis
- You smoke
However, the disease isn’t necessarily your “fault.” You can be more at risk if:
- You have diabetes
- You’re a woman going through hormonal changes, such as menopause
- You’re on medications that decrease saliva production
- You have an illness (such as AIDs)
- You’re older
- You’re genetically susceptible
What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Here are the symptoms a person with periodontal disease will experience:
- Bad breath that won’t go away, no matter how much you brush or use mouthwash
- Gums that are either red, swollen, or painful. You may have bleeding gums
- It hurts when you chew
- You may lose teeth, or they might be extremely sensitive
- Your gums may recede, making your teeth appear longer than before
However, as tempting as it is to diagnose yourself on the internet, be sure to schedule an appointment today with your dentist if you’re experiencing these symptoms. Your dentist will diagnose and treat you to properly handle your gum infection.
Is it a Contagious Disease?
Unfortunately, periodontal disease and gingivitis are contagious. The bacteria that cause it can cause gum disease to spread. If you come into contact with someone who has gum disease, you may be at risk yourself, and if you have it, you can spread it to others.
The disease spreads through saliva contact, including:
- Eating from the same utensils
- Sipping the same straws
While the disease itself technically isn’t contagious, the bacteria that cause it are. By sharing saliva, you exchange bacteria that cause gum disease. Due to the risk of spreading, avoid kissing and sharing saliva if someone suspects they have it.
Can Periodontitis Be Cured?
Unfortunately, periodontal disease cannot be completely cured. However, if you do have it, it can be managed by your dentist. If the disease isn’t serious yet, it can likely be treated by procedures that aren’t as invasive, such as:
- Professional cleanings: Dental professionals clean so well that you can’t manage the same level of precision by cleaning at home
- Scaling: Removes bacteria, tartar, and plaque buildup
- Root planing: Smooths the root surfaces to prevent more buildup
- Antibiotics: These can be topical or oral to control the infection
However, if a patient has advanced periodontal disease, they may need surgical treatment. Your dentist may suggest:
- Flap surgery: Allows for more effective scaling and planing
- Bone grafting: Helps prevent tooth loss, holding your tooth in place
- Soft tissue grafting: Reduces further gum recession
- Tissue-stimulating protein: Stimulates healthy bone and tissue growth
- Guided tissue regeneration: Prevents unhealthy tissue from entering the healing area, allowing healthy bone to grow back
Most people don’t want to have surgery or any treatment at all. Next, we’ll be discussing at-home remedies to reduce or prevent it. However, if you do have it, always make sure to visit a dentist first.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Follow these steps to prevent gum disease or to try to reduce it:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day. You could even brush them after every meal or snack.
- Don’t use old toothbrushes. Replace it at least every three months or earlier.
- Consider using an electric toothbrush, and try to find a soft one.
- Use mouthwash.
- Floss daily.
- Use a dental pick or dental stick to clean even more than flossing.
- Get regular professional dental cleanings.
- Don’t smoke tobacco, and don’t chew it, either.
What if I Have Symptoms?
Gum disease can cause an inflammatory reaction, leading to other issues like heart disease. Don’t panic, but do know that it is a serious disease that can cause other issues. It’s really important to control your oral health so you can stay healthy throughout your whole body.
If you have symptoms, seek treatment with your dentist. Schedule an appointment, then start practicing good oral hygiene. To get ready for your appointment, write down:
- Your symptoms
- Any medical conditions you have
- Medications you take
- Questions you want to ask your dentist
We recommend writing this down so that when you get to the dentist, you won’t even have to think or remember your answers. You’ll have them written down already! Being prepared with all your information and questions will help you make the most of your time with your dentist.
Getting a Second Opinion
Ask your dentist what options you have. You don’t always have to go with the very first option they recommend. It’s unlikely, but there may be cases where you want a second opinion. Deciding which dental treatment or surgery to go with is a huge decision, so absolutely know that you can go to another dentist for their thoughts on your situation.
Schedule an Appointment
Whether it’s your first appointment or you need a second opinion, Wayzata Dentistry Clinic is here for you. Our goal is to keep you healthy and smiling with as minimally invasive procedures as possible. Book an appointment online today.