If you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, you’re not alone. Nearly half of American adults over 30 suffer from gum (periodontal) disease — sometimes without even knowing. While that sounds alarming, it’s never too late to start taking better care of your gums. The progression of your gum disease depends on what you do to manage your oral health. Here’s what you need to know about the condition and what kinds gum disease treatments are available.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. Some types of bacteria mix with your saliva to form a substance on your teeth called plaque. If you don’t brush and floss on a regular basis, the plaque in your mouth will harden and form tartar. Tartar can’t be cleaned by just brushing. As a result, it can cause cavities in your teeth and infect your gums.
To help minimize your risk and keep your mouth healthy, floss your teeth every day. Maintaining a regular flossing habit keeps dangerous bacteria from growing between your teeth, moving into your gums, and causing infection.
Other factors that could contribute to gum disease include smoking, diabetes and certain other illnesses, hormonal changes, certain medications, and genetics.
Signs of Gum Disease
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for the common symptoms of gum disease:
- Chronic bad breath
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Difficulty chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss, and is linked to other chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, pneumonia, and various forms of cancer. If you notice some or all of these symptoms, contact your local dentist to set up an appointment immediately.
What Gum Disease Treatments are Available?
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)
Scaling is the act of scraping tartar off the gum line at the tops and bottoms of your teeth. Root planing removes rough or damaged spots on the roots of your teeth, where germs and harmful bacteria collect.
Your dentist might prescribe products like antimicrobial mouth rinse, antiseptic and antibiotic rinses and gels, oral antibiotics (pills), and enzyme suppressants. For many gum disease patients, however, surgery is necessary.
Laser Periodontal Therapy™
Here at My Family Dentistry, Dr. Mullins is licensed to practice Laser Periodontal Therapy™, a minimally-invasive method of treating gum disease. This means that we can successfully treat you for gum disease without scalpels or sutures. Undergoing LPT may mean a shorter healing time as well.
If inflammation and diseased tissue remain after deep cleaning and medication, then you may need to have the affected gum tissue surgically removed. When the gums have pulled away from the teeth, deep pockets are created where tartar deposits form. A gingivectomy removes and reshapes loose, diseased tissue to get rid of those deep pockets. Afterward, the gums are sutured back into place.
On the other hand, if your disease has progressed too far, a gingivectomy might not be enough. When you lose too much tissue and bone to deep pockets, tartar deposits, and decay, tissue regeneration may reverse some of that damage and help your body heal. This method uses artificial membranes, bone and gum tissue grafts, or other tissue-stimulating proteins.
What Gum Disease Treatment is Best for Me?
Your best option varies depending on the state of your gums and teeth. Therefore, the only way to find out is to contact your dentist. They can examine the progression of your gum disease and help you figure out the best treatment for your body.
At My Family Dentistry, we work hard to treat gum disease and above all, strive to keep our patients healthy. Contact us to schedule an appointment.
(This post was originally published on 10/12/16. It has since been updated.)