Talking to Your Dentist About Periodontal Disease

You have a unique medical history. Therefore, it is essential to talk with your dentist about your personal risk factors and/or experience with periodontal disease. By talking openly and regularly with your dentist, you can take an active role in your care.

General Tips for Gathering Information

Here are some tips that will make it easier for you to talk to your dentist:

  • Bring someone else with you. It helps to have another person hear what is said and think of questions to ask.
  • Write your questions ahead of time, so you don't forget them.
  • Write down the answers you get, and make sure you understand what you are hearing. Ask for clarification, if necessary.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your questions or ask where you can find more information about what you are discussing. You have a right to know.

Specific Questions to Ask Your Dentist

About Periodontal Disease

  • What symptoms might suggest that I have periodontal disease?
  • Do you always check for periodontal disease at my regular dental check-ups?
  • What methods do you use to monitor me for the development of periodontal disease?
  • What type of toothbrush do you suggest I use?
  • Do you recommend a particular type of toothpaste?
  • What should I use to clean between my teeth?
  • Should I use a fluoride mouth rinse?
  • How often should I undergo cleanings and check-ups?

About Your Risk of Developing Periodontal Disease

  • How likely am I to develop periodontal disease?
  • Are there times in my life when I am at higher risk?
  • During higher risk periods, should I take any special precautions?
  • I’d like to get pregnant. What kinds of things should I know about periodontal disease and pregnancy?
  • If I get pregnant, what risks does periodontal disease pose to my baby?

About Treatment Options

  • Do you recommend that I see a periodontist?
  • Would antibiotic treatment help?
  • Should I take antibiotics by mouth, or use one of the methods that apply the antibiotic close to the area of periodontal disease?
  • Is my periodontal disease severe enough that I need to undergo scaling and root planing?
  • Might I need a surgical procedure?

About Lifestyle Changes

  • Can stopping smoking help?
  • Can you help provide me with information about programs or devices that might help me stop smoking?
  • Can you help me learn how to eat nutritiously?
  • Should I change my tooth brushing and flossing regimen?
  • Could you or your dental hygienist watch me brush and floss, and teach me the most effective techniques?

About Outlook

  • If I have periodontal disease, how can I stop its development?
  • Will I lose any of my teeth?
  • Could I have any other complications from periodontal disease?
  • What’s the latest information about the possible connection between periodontal disease and other major illnesses, such as coronary artery disease, diabetes, and stroke?
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References:

Gum disease risk factors. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: https://www.perio.org/consumer/risk-factors. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Gum (Periodontal) Disease. NIH SeniorHealth website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Accessed August 17, 2016.
Periodontal disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Updated March 10, 2015. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Periodontal (gum) disease: Causes, symptoms, and treatments. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at:
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September 2013. Accessed August 17, 2016.
Tips for talking to your doctor. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at:
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Updated May 2014. Accessed September 8, 2016.
Last reviewed September 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 11/1/2017

 

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