Gum Disease Therapy
Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body!
What is (Periodontal) Gum Disease?
There are two main types of gum diseases. Gingivitis, which is familiar to people and is more common, is a condition that causes gums to become swollen, red, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is most commonly caused by inadequate brushing and flossing.
However, left untreated, Gingivitis can progress to Periodontitis. This is where plaque spreads below the gum line. Bacteria will collect there and release toxins. The body responds to the constant presence of toxins with chronic inflammation. This inflammation breaks down the tissue under the gum line, creating “pockets” which can then become infected. Over time, both gum tissue and bone are damaged or destroyed.
Left untreated, gum disease will ultimately result in the loss of teeth. The gums and surrounding bone become so weakened by the bacteria and immune response that they will no longer be able to hold in the teeth. Furthermore, studies have directly connected the presence of oral bacteria associated with gum disease with heart disease. A healthy mouth truly can help lead to a healthy body. This is yet another reason why proper diagnosis and treatment of gum disease is very important.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are often not painful at all. People will often ignore the inflammation or other symptoms until they come into the office wondering why they have a loose tooth. This is why it is very important to us to educate our patients about gum disease, and why our team will check the health and condition of the gums as well as the teeth at each checkup visit.
Causes and contributing factors of gum disease
Gum disease is ultimately caused by two things:
- the excessive presence of bacteria in the mouth and
- places for that bacteria to congregate and stay. Most often, bacteria collect on tartar buildup (calculus) around and below the gum line.
Other conditions or factors that contribute to gum disease include:
- Genetics (the tendency towards gum disease may be passed down through genes)
- Poor or inconsistent oral hygiene habits at home, including not flossing frequently enough
- Food stuck in the gums frequently (may be due to infrequent flossing or issues with crooked teeth or malocclusion)
- Mouth breathing and snoring (may lead to severe drying of the gums and teeth in front of the mouth)
- Smoking or the use of tobacco products
- Autoimmune diseases
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes, AIDS, , Leukemia
- Dietary deficiencies, particularly in Vitamin C
- Hormonal changes in the body including pregnancy
- Bruxism (incessant clenching and grinding of the teeth)
- Certain medications or medical treatments such as chemotherapy
Gum Disease Affects More Than Just Your Mouth
Untreated gum disease can result in the loss of teeth, but it doesn’t just stop there. Gum disease can have major impacts on other body systems and has been tied to other serious health issues, and can make certain existing conditions worse. Other areas of the body directly affected by gum disease include the heart, lungs and respiratory system, reproductive system and pregnancy for women, digestive system, and more.
What are the steps involved in treating gum disease?
The most common procedure used to treat gum disease is called Scaling & Root Planing (SRP). This is typically done on one quadrant, or quarter, of the mouth, at a time.
First, local anesthesia will be used to numb the area to be treated. Then a deep cleaning (scaling) will be performed to remove calculus (build-up) underneath the gum line, all the way to the roots of the teeth. This also removes the bacteria that are causing the infection. We may also smooth down areas of the root (planing) to prevent bacteria from finding places to collect in the future.
Gum disease can be reversed in most cases when proper care is taken. Plaque control consisting of professional cleanings at least twice a year accompanied by daily brushing and flossing is absolutely necessary. Brushing eliminates plaque from the surfaces of the teeth that can be reached, while flossing removes food particles and plaque from in between the teeth and under the gum line.
Signs and Symptoms: How do I know if I might have gum disease?
Early symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen gums which may present in one specific area of the mouth. Your gums may bleed infrequently, or they may bleed often when you brush or floss. Symptoms of more advanced gum disease can include bad breath that does not go away after brushing or rinsing, bleeding gums, pus coming from the gums or loose teeth.
Your teeth may look longer because your gums have receded. If you have a partial, it may fit differently, or your teeth may not bite together normally. If you experience these symptoms, it is best to consult our team as soon as possible.
Our team offers evaluation and treatment for periodontal disease as a part of our comprehensive oral health services.
Preparation and Post-procedure care for gum disease treatment
Many patients may experience some degree of sensitivity in the treated area, but this should go away after a short period of time. Our team will review post-procedure care instructions with you.
During follow up visit we will assess how the gums are healing, review at-home hygiene habits and techniques, and to determine next steps if additional treatment is necessary.
The majority of gum disease cases can be prevented by good oral hygiene at home and regular recare examination and cleanings every 6 months. A healthy oral hygiene routine consists of brushing at least twice a day with a soft-bristled brush and toothpaste, and flossing at least once per day. If you have been treated for gum disease in the past, we may recommend a maintenance program requiring more frequent checkups and cleanings (every 2 to 3 months) for a limited amount of time.
Catching issues such as gum disease as early as possible will help keep your body in prime condition to heal itself. With that in mind, it is also important to take good care of your whole body. A healthy diet, exercise, and regular check-ups with your general doctor will help you to ensure your mouth truly is the reflection of your good health.
For more information and to schedule your personalized consultation at our friendly dental office, we invite you to call or visit us today. We are committed to improving your smile!