Millions of Americans suffer from periodontal disease. Our dental office offers periodontal evaluation for patients that are struggling with this condition and provide a variety of treatment solutions to help combat the symptoms and heal the gums.
What are the signs of gum disease?
You may have gum disease if your gums are red and swollen or bleeding. It is natural for this to happen from time to time after eating something that irritates your gums or brushing too aggressively. If, however, this happens on a regular basis you probably have some type of gum disease. Another symptom is bad breath, loose teeth, pain while chewing, sensitive teeth or teeth that appear longer.
What are the consequences of periodontal disease?
In its early stages, gum disease can cause some irritation and bleeding. There may be some discomfort, but it will be minimal. This stage is called gingivitis. If, however, it is left untreated the disease will spread, and the gums will start to recede by pulling away from the tooth. This creates pockets in the gum tissue that can expose more of the tooth structure and the root system. Once exposed, the tooth and roots are more susceptible to becoming infected as bacteria can gather and start to irritate the area. This can lead to cavities and infections along with bone loss. In severe cases, the bone loss in combination with receding gums can lead to tooth loss. In many cases, adult teeth that fall out due so because of gum disease.
What causes gum disease?
In short – bacteria. When bacteria remain on the teeth, it can form plaque and tartar. When this substance becomes stuck in between the teeth and gums, it can lead to gum complication. The best way to prevent this is to brush and floss several times throughout the day along with visiting the dentist for regular teeth cleanings.
Are certain people at risk for the condition?
There are things you can do to increase your risk for getting gum disease. This includes smoking, hormonal changes, pregnancy, diabetes, certain medications, and genetics. Any time that the blood flow is constricted or reduced, your risk for the disease increases. This is why diabetics and pregnant women are more susceptible to the condition. We recommend that our pregnant patients visit our office at least twice during pregnancy in order to decrease their risk and the pregnancy complications that come with it.
How is it treated?
There are several ways that we treat gum disease. We will make a recommendation after examining your teeth and gums to determine what the source of the problem is and what should be done to address it. The treatment plan is often dictated by the severity of the periodontitis. Once the disease has progressed too far, more significant procedures may be necessary to heal the gums. At times, this involves surgery.
The first step in addressing gum disease is to complete a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing). By removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and gums, we can help patients start the healing process. Once the bacteria and plaque have been removed, the gums will start to heal naturally. If the plaque is only around the edge of the gum line, a standard teeth cleaning will work. If it has become trapped between the gums and teeth, a scaling and root planning procedure will be required. In this case, we will need to scrape the plaque off from the teeth underneath the gums. Some dentists use a laser to do so in order to complete the procedure faster.
When surgery is required, it is typically because the gums have receded significantly. When pockets form in the gum tissue, they need to be restored in order to protect the tooth again. In this case, a gum graft can be helpful. This works by taking tissue from the roof of the mouth or another area and grafting it to the gums so that the gum tissue can start to regenerate. The gums then need to be secured back around the tooth in order to protect it and the roots. If bone loss has occurred as a result of gum disease, a bone graft may be necessary in order to restore and strengthen the tooth. In this procedure natural or synthetic bone is compacted into the area and sealed so that the bone can start to regenerate.
how to keep your gums healthy
You can prevent periodontitis by taking simple steps that include brushing your teeth after meals, flossing on a daily basis and rinsing your mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash once a day. This will help to remove bacteria and sugar from your teeth and gums before they can turn into plaque. Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar can also help to keep your gums healthy. We further recommend having your teeth cleaned professionally at least twice a year so that we can remove plaque and tartar from hard to reach places. This will ensure that your gums remain healthy.