What is Gum Disease?
The term “periodontics” refers to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases affecting the gums. Periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease, involves bacterial growth (a colorless film called “plaque”) that gradually destroys the tissue surrounding the teeth. If periodontal disease is left untreated, bone and surrounding tissue will decay, resulting in loose teeth, or worse, tooth loss.
By detecting and treating gum disease as early as possible, our Gilbert dentist office can help you avoid the lingering bacterial infections that can lead to tooth loss and other serious complications.
Types of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Typically there is little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is commonly caused by poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and improved oral home care.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and other structures supporting the teeth, characterized by the formation of pockets or spaces between the tooth and gums. When this happens, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums, and bacteria sticks to the surface of the tooth and in the pockets surrounding the tooth. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Initially this process has very mild symptoms, but if left untreated, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
When Periodontal Treatment Is Necessary
There are several reasons when periodontal treatment is necessary:
- Moderate/advanced gum disease – This occurs when the gums are bleeding, swollen or red around most teeth and the jawbone has begun to recede.
- Localized gum recession – The infection which propagates moderate or advanced gum disease often begins in one area. Gum recession may also be caused due to over brushing with a hard bristle brush, or due to a tooth that is not positioned properly. Immediate treatment is required to prevent further spreading.
- Before crown lengthening – The periodontist may lengthen the crown of the tooth by removing surrounding soft tissue to provide more tooth exposure.
- Ridge augmentation – This procedure, often called “recontouring” may be required to correct an uneven gum line. Before starting on this treatment, a periodontist needs to treat any bacterial infections and periodontal disease.
Gum Disease Treatment
There are several options to treat gum disease. Your treatment plan depends on how advanced your gum disease is. Treatment for periodontal disease include:
- Professional Cleaning: In the early stages, such as gingivitis, a reguluar professional cleaning from your hygieniest will be all that’s required. Your dental team will work with you on improving your oral health care at home, to help prevent reocurring gingivitis and maintain healthy gums.
- Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing): If your gum disease has advanced beyond gingivitis, the first step in treating gum disease usually involves an advanced cleaning called a “deep cleaning” that requires scaling and root planing. Scaling occurs during the removal of plaque and tartar down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket. Root Planing smoothes the surfaces of your teeth, allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the teeth.
- Periodontal Surgery: In some cases, even a deep cleaning isn’t enough treatment. If pockets do not heal enough after scaling and root planing, gum surgery may be needed.
Get An Exam for Gum Disease
If you are experiencing any symptoms of gum disease such as red, swollen, and bleeding gums, we recommend getting an exam as soon as possible. During a periodontal exam, we’ll measure the depth of the space between the tooth and gums around each tooth. In addition to these measurements, we also measure any recession of the gum tissue, assess any loosening of your teeth, and check for any visual signs of inflamed gum tissue.
If you have any questions, concerns, or need treatment for periodontal issues, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.