Gum disease is not curable, but it is manageable. About two in five adults suffer from gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, according to the NIH. Gum disease occurs when tartar and plaque start to build up on the surfaces of your teeth. Your gums then react to the bacteria in those irritants, and get red, tender and swollen. They may even bleed whenever you brush or floss.
Gum disease is a serious gum infection that causes damage to the soft tissue surrounding the teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis will destroy the bone that’s designed to support your teeth, which in turn can cause them to loosen or fall out altogether. While periodontitis is common, it can usually be prevented by taking good care of your mouth and teeth. This means you should be brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and getting regular dental checkups.
Gum Disease Treatment
As we said above, there is no cure for gum disease but it can be managed or treated. Treatments can be surgical or non-surgical in nature, depending on the stage of the disease and your oral as well as overall health. Non-surgical treatments include root planing and scaling, laser treatment, and the use of antibiotics.
Scaling and root planning is essentially a deep dental cleaning that reaches beneath the gum line to remove tartar and plaque on root surfaces. The hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and smooth away rough spots on the roots to prevent bacteria and plaque from re-attaching. You will get local anesthesia for your comfort.
Laser periodontal therapy involves the use of a laser to remove diseased tissue and bacteria under the gums. Laser therapy does not involve incisions or sutures.
Surgical treatments include guided tissue regeneration, bone and gum grafting, and pocket reduction surgery. Pocket reduction surgery involves creating incisions along the gum line to temporarily move the gums away from the teeth in order to see the roots underneath. Tartar buildup is removed and your root surfaces are cleaned.
Bone grafting uses your own bone to rebuild areas damaged by gum disease. Similarly, gum grafting uses your own tissue to treat recession. With guided tissue regeneration, a membrane is placed in the damaged area to keep the tissue from growing where bone should grow. Then, your body has time to regenerate bone around the tooth.
Periodontists, AKA gum specialists, typically perform these non-surgical and surgical procedures, but general dentists can treat mild forms of gum disease.
Gum disease treatments happen to be the most common type of dental procedure. Such procedures are designed to reduce infection in the mouth and rebuild tissues that have been damaged by gum disease.
The sooner you treat this disease, the better your chance at achieving long-lasting oral health. In its earliest stages, called gingivitis, gum disease can be reversed. But when you let it progress to more advanced stages, called periodontitis, serious damage happens to your gums and underlying bone. Gaps called periodontal pockets can then form around your teeth, resulting in further infection, loose teeth and tooth loss.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
There are some signs and symptoms that can alert you to the onset of gum disease. Those include:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Gums that are dark red, bright red, or dark purple
- Gums that are tender to the touch
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pink toothbrush after brushing
- Spitting out blood when flossing or brushing
- Bad breath that doesn’t dissipate
- Pus between the gums and teeth
- Loose or lost teeth
- Painful chewing
- New spaces between teeth that resemble black triangles
- Receding gums (this happens when the gums start to pull away from the teeth)
- A change in the alignment of your bite
When Should You See a Dentist For Gum Disease?
If you have been seeing your dentist twice yearly, there shouldn’t be anything to worry about, as your dentist will have been following the state of your gums carefully and taking notes. But if you have neglected regular dentist visits, or notice a change in between regular visits, make an appointment as soon as you can to have a better chance at reversing damage due to periodontitis.
Book Your Appointment With Ashby Dental in Elmwood Today
The best way to prevent gum disease is to make healthy eating choices and brush/floss every day. The next best way is to attend your dental visits twice a year without fail. Our dentists can keep an eye out for signs of gum disease and catch it before it starts. Please book your appointment with us today at (510) 549-0133. We are located at 2507 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, CA and our hours are Mon – Thu 8am to 4pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.