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Is periodontal disease contagious?

Oct 16, 2023Oral health

Is periodontal disease contagious?

The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) states that periodontal disease is not directly transmissible from person to person, so it’s not contagious. However, the bacteria which causes the inflammation of the tissue can be spread through saliva, leading to the potential for transmission between individuals.

If an individual has gingivitis or gum disease, they may spread the bacteria causing these conditions through contact with another person’s saliva.

It is unlikely to contract gingivitis from coming into contact with another’s saliva, provided that one maintains a good oral hygiene regimen. Poor oral hygiene combined with bacteria exposure leads to the development of these conditions.

What is Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)?

When left unchecked, gingivitis can lead to the development of periodontitis, commonly referred to as gum or periodontal disease.

Periodontitis is a condition characterized by the detachment of the inner layer of gum tissue and bone from teeth, leading to the formation of small pockets between the teeth and gums.

The presence of small pockets between the teeth and gums poses a great threat. These pockets can accumulate debris, harbor bacteria, and become infected. In such situations, the immune system is mobilized to combat the infection, but this in turn can lead to further growth of plaque beneath the gum line, causing even more complications. Also, bad breath is a notable sign of periodontitis.

If you are suffering from periodontal disease, the plaque can generate toxins that can cause structural damage to both the bone and the tissues which hold your teeth in place.

Periodontal disease is a progressive disorder, meaning that once the connective tissue that binds the gums to the teeth starts to disintegrate, the pockets between teeth and gums will progressively deepen and destroy more bone and connective tissue.

In the later stages of periodontitis, the support structure for your teeth can weaken, potentially resulting in loss of teeth as they become loose and fall out.

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has reported that periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.

Can Periodontitis Be Cured?

Unfortunately, periodontal disease cannot be completely eradicated. However, if present, it can be managed by your dentist. If the disease has not yet reached an advanced stage, it can likely be treated with less invasive procedures, such as:

  • Professional cleanings: Dental professionals offer a level of precision in teeth cleaning that is unachievable through at-home cleaning.
  • Scaling: Help reduce the buildup of bacteria, tartar, and plaque on teeth.
  • Root planing: Root surfaces are smoothed to prevent further accumulation.
  • Antibiotics: Topical or oral medications may be utilized to manage the infection.

If a patient is diagnosed with advanced periodontal disease, surgical treatment may be recommended. The dentist could suggest:

  • Flap surgery: Enables more efficient scaling and planning.
  • Bone grafting: Help to prevent tooth loss and maintain the placement of your teeth.
  • Soft tissue grafting: Helps to prevent further gum recession.
  • Tissue-stimulating protein: Promotes the development of healthy bones and tissues.
  • Guided tissue regeneration: Stop unhealthy tissue from entering the area of healing promotes proper growth of healthy bone.

Many individuals are hesitant to undergo surgical procedures or any form of treatment. If, however, you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, it is strongly recommended that you first consult a dentist.

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