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Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain-free, many patients do not know they have the disease. During each regular checkup, Our Doctors will check for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the space between your teeth and gums.
If you have gum disease, our Doctors may be able to provide gum treatment or you may be referred to our in house periodontist Dr. Isler who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of periodontal disease. Treatment for gum disease depends on how far the condition has progressed and how well your body responds to therapy.
What can cause gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis — The early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
- Periodontitis — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis. This is when the gums and bone that support the teeth become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Gums infected with periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or will need to be removed by a dentist.
Increased risk factors of periodontal disease can include:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Certain medication cause dry mouth such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives which can lead to periodontal disease
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Old restorations or fillings
Although many patients do not realize they have periodontal disease, some noticeable symptoms are:
- Gums that bleed easily or are red, swollen and tender
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures
Treating Gum Disease
Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each individual case. Some of the typical treatments can include:
- Non-surgical treatments such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning). The goal of the scaling and root planing is to help gum tissue to heal and gum pockets to shrink, sometimes with the help of medications prescribed by the Doctors.
- Periodontal surgery and gum surgery which allows for Dr. Isler to access areas under the gum and along the roots where plaque and tartar have accumulated and are hard to reach, bone surgery and gingival grafting.
- Dental implants to replace missing teeth
Preventing Gum Disease
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are imparative for maintaining your health and the health of your smile. Most of the time, gum disease is preventable by practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can significantly reduce your chances of ever getting gum disease. Brushing regularly, cleaning between your teeth, eating a balanced diet, and keeping your regular dental visits, will help maintain your beautiful healthy smile.