Keep Your Smile Healthy From the Gums Up!
Don’t Just Cure Your Gum Disease – Prevent It!
It’s important to know that there is no cure for advanced periodontal (gum) disease. Once your gums have become infected, we will control the problem and protect your gums from damage and pain. We can do this a number of ways:
- Root scaling and planing, which we do through laser therapy. This involves a deep cleaning to remove bacteria from under your gumline, then smoothing out the bumpy surface of your tooth roots where plaque likes to gather.
- Perio Protect at-home gum disease treatment, which delivers medication right to your gums through a custom-fitted tray.
- Fluoride toothpaste is a tried-and-true method for protecting smiles from bacteria. Patients who are concerned about fluoride can talk to Dr. Miller about our other options.
If we catch periodontal disease early enough, we can sometimes put a stop to it with a simple but thorough dental cleaning. The best way to catch it is through recognizing symptoms, whether by us during a biannual exam or by you at home. Symptoms of gum disease include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums.
- Gums that bleed easily after flossing or brushing.
- Chronic bad breath.
About Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums, which gradually leads to the destruction of the support of your natural teeth. This disease affects more than 80% of Americans by the age of 45.
Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Bacteria found in plaque produce enzymes and toxins which injure the gums. Injured gums turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this injury is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous substance known as calculus (tartar).
This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal disease progresses, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds the teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. Pain is usually not present until damage from this disease is very advanced.
Stages Of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis develops as toxins, enzymes and other plaque byproducts by irritating the gums, making them tender, swollen and likely to bleed easily. Gingivitis generally can be stopped with proper oral hygiene and minor treatment from your dentist. If this is achieved, your gums can return to a healthy state.
Moderate gum disease is when the tooth's bone tissue starts to deteriorate. Periodontitis occurs when plaque byproducts destroy the tissues that anchor your teeth in the bone. The gums deteriorate and begin detaching themselves from the teeth forming gum pockets, which allows more plaque to collect below the gum line. This causes the roots of the teeth to become susceptible to decay. Generally, patients notice an increase in sensitivity to hot and cold and to touch.
Advanced periodontitis occurs when a major amount of gum and bone tissue has been lost and the teeth are losing more and more support due to the loss of periodontal ligament and bone. Some teeth are unable to be saved and must be extracted. If left untreated, advanced periodontitis can cause severe health problems elsewhere in the body.
Tooth scaling is a service that involves using a tool that is specifically designed to break-apart and remove tartar. We gently run the tooth scaling tool along the front and back surfaces of teeth that have any signs of tartar which effectively cleans the gumline and smooths the tooth enamel. Every time you come in for a dental checkup, tooth scaling is performed to help prevent future dental problems such as cavities and gum disease.
Sometimes, tartar can find its way below the gumline and attach itself to tooth roots. This can lead to tooth sensitivity and more serious issues such as periodontitis and gums that detach from the tooth and recede. When this happens, we will need to perform a deep cleaning (also known as root planing) that involves ridding tartar from your tooth roots and smoothing the rough root surfaces to allow gums to re-attach themselves.
Keeping your gums healthy
Healthy gums are generally pink and anchor the teeth firmly in place. Healthy gums do not bleed or hurt during normal brushing and flossing.
Early forms of gum disease can easily be treated and reversed with daily brushing and flossing and dental checkups every 6 months.