Gingivitis & Periodontitis (Gum Disease)
Information & Treatment Options:
Periodontal diseases range from simple gum inflammation to severe illness that can result in significant damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. Recent studies show that over 30% of adults in the U.S. currently have some form of the disease.
The bacteria in our mouths along with mucus and other particles form a sticky, colorless plaque on teeth. While proper oral hygiene can help keep this problem at bay, plaque that is not removed by brushing and flossing can harden and form tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist during with a professional cleaning.
The longer plaque and tartar are on teeth, the more harmful they become. Bacteria causes an inflammation of the gums called gingivitis. With gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and/or tissue that hold teeth in place.
When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). With periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called pockets) that become infected.
Your immune system then has to fight this bacteria, as plaque spreads below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If left untreated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth can be destroyed, eventually resulting in tooth loss.
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
Symptoms of gum disease often include:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Loose teeth
- Painful chewing
- Receding gum line
- Red, swollen, tend, or bleeding gums
- Sensitive teeth
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, contact our office about treatment at North East Dental Arts. Should it be gum disease, it’s vital that you receive treatment as soon as possible.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
The primary goal of treatment is to control the infection. The type of treatment will vary depending on the extent of the gum disease.
Our dental hygienists can remove plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather and help remove bacteria that contribute to the disease.
If inflammation and deep pockets remain after scaling and root planing, Our doctors may refer you to a local periodontist for advanced care (a periodontist specializes in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease). Patients with severe levels of periodontal disease can be best managed through a partnership with our doctors and a periodontist.
Preventing Periodontal Disease
Our doctors recommend practicing good dental habits for all patients in order to prevent gingivitis and periodontitis. Good dental habits include:
- Brushing at least two times a day
- Flossing once a day
- Scheduling regular appointments, exams, cleanings
- Electric toothbrushes and oral irrigators
Our doctors also encourage patients to make wise food choices to help prevent gingivitis and periodontitis. Proper nutrition is vital for children whose teeth are still developing and for adults to maintain healthy gums. If you smoke or chew tobacco, it’s essential that you quit. Tobacco users are much more likely to develop gum disease than nonsmokers. Nicotine also reduces your ability to fight infection and delays healing.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Poor Nutrition
- Heart Disease