Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, happens when the gums become infected. With proper treatment early on, you can help offset damage and prevent the disease from progressing. If you have gum disease, it’s important to take swift action so it doesn’t advance.
Understanding Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is an infection of the soft tissue in your mouth, the gums. It’s caused by plaque, a form of bacteria, that has built up on the teeth due to lack of good dental hygiene. When plaque builds up and hardens, tartar forms. Once it gets to this level, you have to seek dental care as brushing and flossing at home will not remove tartar like they can plaque.
The most common gum disease symptoms, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, are:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red and swollen gum
- Tender and bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
How Gum Disease is Diagnosed
Gum disease is diagnosed by your dentist, who will look for a number of different signs to see how far your condition has developed. First, the dentist will ask for your medical history to learn if there are certain conditions or factors that could be putting you more at risk for gum disease. Certain conditions like HIV/Aids, some types of medications, smoking, and hormones are all things that could be the cause of gum disease.
Next, your dental team will examine your mouth to look for the obvious signs, like we mentioned above. Red, bleeding gums are often an indicator that a patient has gum disease. The dentist will also look for things it can be hard for people to see on their own, like excessive plaque and tartar buildup. During the exam, your dentist will measure the pocket depth using a dental problem to check for deep pockets, which can also signal gum disease. If there’s significant depth in the pockets, your dentist might have x-rays taken to look further into your severity of periodontitis.
Treating Gum Disease
To treat gum disease, you’ll need to see your dentist. Every patient is different, and the level of disease you’re currently experiencing will determine the best course of action. If you’re in the early-to-moderate stages of gum disease, your dentist could suggest nonsurgical treatments. Mayo Clinic explains these treatments as:
- Scaling: this will remove tartar and bacteria from your teeth and below the gumline.
- Root planing: this will smooth the root surfaces, which discourages further buildup or bacteria and removes buildup that is contributing to the inflammation.
- Antibiotics: topical or oral antibiotics will help control an infection.
They do mention, however, that sometimes surgical treatments are the best course of action for advanced cases. Those can include:
- Flap surgery: tiny incisions will be made in the gums so that a section of gum tissue can be lifted back. This will expose the roots so more extensive scaling and planing can be done. Once you heal, it’ll be easier to clean these areas and keep your gums healthy.
- Soft tissue grafts: your gumline will recede as you lose gum tissue, so having tissue, like from the roof of your mouth, removed and attached to the affected site can help reduce further gum recession.
- Bone grafting: if gum disease has made its way into the bone surrounding your tooth root, you might need a graft to prevent tooth loss and keep your tooth in place.
- Guided tissue regeneration: this will allow regrowth of bone that has been destroyed by bacteria. The material they use will prevent unwanted tissue from entering the healing area, which allows the bone to grow back instead.
- Tissue-stimulating proteins: this involves applying a gel to the affected tooth root. This gel contains the same proteins found in developing tooth enamel, and can stimulate the growth of healthy bone and tissue.
Is There a Cure for Gum Disease?
The earliest stage of gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is the most easy to reverse. Your dentist can help catch early signs of gingivitis at your regular cleanings and checkups. In most cases, you can cure gum in this stage. However, as the disease progresses and reaches periodontitis, it can’t be cured, only treated. If you suspect you have periodontitis, seek help from your dentist as soon as possible. When you see your dentist, you can get started on a treatment plan that will work to get your mouth healthy again and get you out of pain.
Niles Family Dentistry
If you suspect gum disease or have other dental issues, call our team at Niles Family Dentistry. Located in Niwot, we want to be your family dentist of choice. Focusing on patient care with state of the art dental techniques in a warm, friendly atmosphere, we’re proud to serve you and your family. Call for an appointment now: (720)-744-0001.