Periodontal group offers prevention tips for Halloween

Oct. 6, 2004
American Academy of Periodontology reminds youth to brush and floss after enjoying Halloween snacks.

As you trick-or-treat this season, remember the trick to enjoying the treats: Brushing and flossing your teeth and gums after eating candy, caramel apples, popcorn and other Halloween snacks. This will help to prevent periodontal diseases.

"Maintaining a healthy mouth is not just a matter of a pretty smile and being able to enjoy the trick-or-treating season," said Michael P. Rethman, D.D.S., M.S., and president of the American Academy of Periodontology. "Research shows that nearly one in three U.S. adults aged 30 to 54 and 50 percent of adults aged 55 to 90 have some form of periodontitis, or more advanced stages of the disease."

Periodontal diseases are a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. As the disease destroys gum tissue and bone, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.

"The good news is patients no longer have to be haunted by toothless smiles because dental implants are a tooth replacement option," said Rethman. "A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into your jaw to hold a replacement tooth, bridge or denture in place."

Some implants take two to six months for the bone and implant to bond together to form anchors. During this time, a removable temporary tooth replacement can be worn over the implant site. Research has also advanced to where an implant can be placed immediately following tooth extraction.

"Depending on the specific condition and the type of implant chosen, a periodontist will create a treatment plan tailored to meet the patient's needs," said Rethman.

Periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of tissues surrounding the teeth and in the placement of dental implants. They receive extensive training in these areas, including three additional years of education beyond dental school. 

Periodontists also have experience working with other dental professionals and the special knowledge, training and facilities needed so that patients can have and maintain teeth that look and feel just like their own. This makes the periodontist a vital member of the dental implant team.

Warning signs of periodontal disease may include:

* Persistent bad breath

* Gums that bleed when you brush your teeth

* Red, swollen an bleeding gums

* Gums that have pulled away from the teeth

* Loose or separating teeth

* Pus between the gum and tooth

* A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

A referral to a periodontist who places dental implants and free brochure samples about dental implants and periodontal diseases are available by calling 800-FLOSS-EM or visiting the AAP's Web site at

The AAP is a 7,900-member organization of dentists specializing in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of tissues surrounding the teeth and in the placement of dental implants. Periodontics is one of eight specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.