If you have been told you have periodontal (gum) disease, you’re not alone. Many adults in the U.S. have some form of this infection. Periodontal disease ranges from simple gum inflammation to a serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support teeth. In the worst cases, teeth are lost.
Whether your gum disease is stopped, slowed, or gets worse depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, from this point forward.
Our mouths are full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth. Brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed hardens and forms “tartar” that brushing doesn’t remove. Only a professional cleaning by one of our dental hygienists can remove tartar.
When gingivitis is not treated, it advances to “periodontitis” (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces (called “pockets”) that become infected. The body’s immune system fights bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows 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 not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and must be removed.
People usually don’t show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to have gum disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque can build up along and under the gum line.
Symptoms of gum disease include:
Any of these symptoms may be a sign of a serious problem, which we routinely check for you.
At your dental visit we will:
Our dentist or hygienist may also:
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment vary depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires the patient to keep up good daily care at home. We may also suggest changing certain behaviors, such as quitting smoking, to improve treatment outcomes.
Our trained dental hygienists 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 germs gather and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease.
In some cases, a laser may be used to remove plaque and tartar. This procedure can result in less bleeding, swelling, and discomfort compared to traditional deep cleaning methods. We have incorporated laser technology into our office to give you the best treatment possible, and hopefully, help patients avoid surgery.