Get healthy gums again with periodontal therapy
Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Nearly 50 percent of Americans have mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis. The prevalence of gum disease rises to 70 percent in adults age 65 and older. All gum disease starts small, and seeing your Suwanee dentist Dr. Mitul Patel regularly at Hello Family Dental for preventive care means an expert will recognize early symptoms of gum disease and help prevent the problem from taking root.
Understanding gum disease
Gum disease is a serious infection. Over time, it can do damage to not only gums and teeth, but it can also affect overall well-being. Periodontitis occurs when there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth. Over time, and without intervention, the gum infection begins to destroy the bone supporting your teeth while also damaging the soft tissue around your teeth.
These side effects, combined with a build-up of tartar and plaque, cause the teeth and gums to separate from each other. This movement allows pockets to form, and they are easily filled with bacteria making them highly susceptible to infection. The destruction of the bone and gum tissue continues the longer the gum disease is permitted to fester, ultimately leading to teeth that become loose in their sockets and eventually fall out.
Symptoms of gum disease
Gum disease is not an affliction that comes on suddenly. Periodontal disease begins gradually, and the symptoms worsen over time. Gingivitis is the first level of gum disease, and its symptoms may not be all that noticeable until they start to get worse. Here are signs of periodontal disease to be aware of:
- Gum irritation or discomfort
- Swollen gums
- Red gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tender gums
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Gum recession
Part of your dentist’s job is to review the color of your gums and check for bleeding gums, gum firmness, and the presence of any pockets developing between the teeth and gums. Tooth sensitivity and teeth that are not firmly in place could also be signs of gum disease. X-rays can also show whether bacteria has built-up and begun wreaking havoc under the gum line.
Preventing gum disease
While some people are predisposed to developing gum disease due to unfortunate DNA, it is possible to ward off periodontitis by addressing the following issues:
- Preventive care: Plaque is the leading cause of gum disease, so skipping brushing and flossing is courting disaster. Avoiding the dentist every six months for your check-up and cleaning is also problematic and contributes to your likelihood of developing gum disease.
- Bad habits: Neglecting your oral health at home or by ignoring dental visits is the biggest bad habit you can have. However, teeth grinding and smoking can also damage your mouth, exacerbate gum disease symptoms, and make it harder for treated gums to heal properly.
- Medications: Bacteria is the main source of gum disease, and bacteria grow aggressively in a dry mouth. If you have decreased saliva production because of medication you are taking – a common side effect – your teeth and gums do not have the help of saliva washing them off. Some medications, of course, cannot be changed, depending on other health conditions you may have, but being aware of your dry mouth (something your Suwanee dentist will notice at your regular check-ups) can help you and your dentist develop a game plan to keep your mouth moist.
What is periodontal therapy?
Aggressive treatment of gum disease is necessary to prevent the problem from spreading and further jeopardizing your oral health. Because periodontal therapy can take several forms, at Hello Family Dental we offer the following treatment options:
- Deep cleanings: Gum disease therapy known as soft tissue management cleans out any decay that has taken root through scaling and root planing. A scaler is used to remove tartar from below the gum line. The planing part smooths irregular surfaces so plaque has a harder time adhering to the enamel. Through scaling and root planing, the reattachment of healthy gums to the teeth is promoted and the progress of gum disease is completely stopped. However, after this treatment is completed, it is essential to follow your dentist’s instructions for proper healing and careful preventive care at home.
- Antimicrobial rinses: Typically used to address mild cases of gingivitis, antimicrobial rinses attack the germs and bacteria that are causing the infection, thereby minimizing plaque formatting, and reducing the level of inflammation as well as bleeding gums.
- Antibiotics: Gum disease is an infection of the gums. An antibiotic helps promote healing and kills the bacteria in your mouth. Antibiotic mouthwash may be prescribed, or topical antibiotics, particularly to treat early-stage gum disease that cannot be reversed or slowed by better preventive care habits.
- Laser gum surgery (LANAP®): Non-surgical laser gum therapy, LANAP technology helps patients avoid the stitches and painful recovery that often accompanies traditional and invasive gum surgery. LANAP is a non-invasive treatment option that targets only the diseased gum tissues while leaving the healthy tissues and bone uncompromised. The LANAP procedure is gentle and straightforward. It uses a pulsed Nd:YAG laser that emits a narrow yet intense beam of light to kill bacteria within the affected sub-gingival tissues and pocket lining. LANAP allows for superior precision and highly predictable results. For patients, recovery is more comfortable and much faster than traditional gum surgery.
Dr. Patel also offers the Pinhole® Surgical Technique (PST®) to correct receding gums, a problem that could eventually lead to the development of gum disease.
All types of gum disease treatment must be followed up by committing to see your dentist every six months (sometimes more often immediately following treatment and during recovery) for an exam and professional teeth cleaning. Without making these actions part of your routine, you are simply setting yourself up for more oral health problems.
Gum disease will not go away on its own and, without treatment, it will only continue to get worse. If you dream of a flawless smile, you can have it, but your gums must be healthy first.
Before any cosmetic dentistry or restorative dentistry can be done on your teeth, gum disease needs to be addressed and eliminated. Contact our Suwanee Periodontal Treatment Specialists at Hello Family Dental today to schedule an appointment to begin restoring your dental health.