Gum (Periodontal) disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and the bone supporting the teeth. It causes about 70% of adult tooth loss; affecting three out of four people at some time in their life. Gum disease falls into two categories, gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis means inflammation of the gums. It can be a precursor to the more serious disease, Periodontitis. Many people are unaware they are suffering from gingivitis because normally there is little or no discomfort at this stage of gum disease. If you notice bleeding when brushing your teeth or that your gums may be red, swollen and a bit puffy, it’s best to make an appointment with your dentist immediately. A thorough examination will reveal if you have gingivitis. Your dentist can advise you on what treatment is required.
Gingivitis is reversible with professional cleaning and improved oral hygiene. Dr. Thompson and his staff can explain thoroughly the best way to initiate the care needed to reverse this disease and restore oral health.
- Periodontitis: Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis when plaque spreads below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque create a chronic inflammatory response and cause the tissue and bone that support the teeth to be destroyed. The gums then begin to separate from the teeth and as the disease progresses more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Despite this destructive process having very mild symptoms, teeth can eventually become loose to the point where they have to be removed.
Today, dentists are able to catch the first signs of gum disease and can rectify matters before the damage is done and surgery is needed. After a visit to the dentist, a patient should be aware of their probe scores, bleeding index and plaque score. These critical measurements are taken at every cleaning and shared with the patient so that they can participate in their own health maintenance.
When we receive patients who have gum disease the plan is to:
- Stop it in its tracks
- Repair the damage wherever possible
Gum disease is treated differently depending on how advanced it is. The goal is to promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth, get the swelling under control, regulate the depth of pockets and to reduce any more risk of infection.
Non-surgical treatments for gum disease include:
- Letting your dental hygienist thoroughly clean your teeth. Hardened plaque on your teeth can only be removed by professionals. If you are showing signs of early gum disease, it is recommended to have your teeth cleaned more than twice a year.
- A deep cleaning non-surgical procedure usually is done under a local anesthetic. Plaque and tarter from above and below the gum line are scraped away and roots of the teeth are made smooth (planning). This allows the gums to reattach to the teeth by eliminating the bacteria.
There are many surgical treatments and it is best to go over each with your dentist to see exactly what is involved. A few include:
- Flap or pocket reduction surgery – this surgery reduces the areas where harmful bacteria can grow by reducing the size of the space between the gum and the tooth.
- Bone grafts – replacing damaged bone with new bone.
- Soft tissue grafts – This procedure strengthens gums where they are thin or have receded by using grafted tissue.
If you are concerned you may be suffering from gum disease, call Dr. Thompson’s and schedule an appointment as soon as possible! With so many options available to you, especially in the advanced stages; it is best to let an experienced doctor explain in detail what options are available to you and which one fits your needs the best.