Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease and occurs when the soft tissue in the mouth is infected. Gum disease is caused by a form of bacteria or plaque that has built up on the teeth because of a lack of good oral hygiene. When plaque builds up and hardens, tartar forms, and once it reaches this level one has to seek dental care because brushing alone will not get rid of the tartar. With early proper periodontal treatment, the damage can be cared for, hence preventing the disease from progressing any further. The most common type of periodontal disease symptoms includes sensitive teeth, bad breath, swollen gums, loose teeth, bleeding gums, painful chewing, and receding gums.
How Does the Dentist Diagnose Gum Disease?
First, the dentist will look into your medical history to check if certain factors could be putting the patient more at risk for gum disease. Our professional team will gather an entire medical history to determine if the patient is taking any prescription medications which might compromise the treatment or if they have any of the known risk factors which can contribute to gum disease. These factors include the use of tobacco or if abusing alcohol regularly. The assessment will be used to determine what stage the gum disease is in so the proper treatment regimen can be recommended. Next, the dental team will examine the mouth to look for any signs or symptoms of periodontal disease. The dentist will also look for signs that can be hard to see like excessive plaque and tartar buildup. The dentist will also measure the pocket depth using a dental probe to check for deep pockets which can also signal gum disease. Measurements will be taken to see how big the pockets are between the gums and teeth. Using x-rays, it will be determined how much bone mass has been lost. Depending on the level of the disease, the dentist will suggest different types of periodontal treatments.
How is Gum Disease Treated?
The main cause of gum disease is the lack of good oral hygiene. Certainly, specific factors can increase the likelihood a given patient may get the disease and, in some cases, even increase the progression of it. The lack of oral hygiene is due to patients not brushing and flossing regularly, leaving bacteria to build up to damaging levels. There are multiple stages to gum disease, but it is important to note that once it moves beyond the initial stage it cannot be cured. There are both surgical and non-surgical treatments available to treat gum disease, however until an exam is done there is no way to tell which protocol would be best. For that reason, patients should come to see us at Periodontal and Implant Surgeons of Houston for their initial assessment.
The early stages of gum disease also known as gingivitis are the easiest to cure if the dentist catches it early before it spreads.
If the gum disease is in the early stages, some non-surgical periodontal treatments can be used. Most patients will be happy to know that not every treatment option available includes surgery. Some are non-surgical and non-invasive. With the use of new technology such as soft tissue lasers, bacteria, tartar, and plaque can be easily removed.
Root-planing is one non-surgical alternative. This entails a professional scraping the roots of the teeth smooth so bacteria cannot cling to the surfaces. This tends to help reduce the size of the pockets between the gums and teeth too. Antibiotics are the most widely used in non-surgical treatments and can help to stabilize the oral cavity by fighting off the bacterial infection.
When the disease reaches periodontitis it can only be treated and not cured, therefore it is important to seek help as soon as possible. There is definitely a mouth-body connection; our oral health can affect our overall health, so it is important to keep our mouths healthy.
Typically, when the disease has moved beyond the initial stages, the non-surgical options will not work. There are dozens of surgical options available, any of which can help to treat the symptoms of the disease. Flap surgery can be employed to help shrink the size of the pockets between the gums and the teeth. Gum grafts are sometimes used when the gums are receding from teeth. It helps to stabilize the underlying bone structure. Bone grafts are used to increase bone mass that is lost to the disease. The dentist may also recommend guided tissue regeneration or tissue stimulating proteins.
Periodontal Maintenance and Care
After the dentist has completed the treatment, the periodontal disease will be stabilized and one is provided with a maintenance program to care and keep good periodontal health. The maintenance program is designed to prevent the disease in the tissues and the bone supporting the teeth. Sticking to the care program and the regular oral visits will give you an excellent chance of keeping your teeth for your lifetime. It is important to note that after the treatment, dental visits should be as often as every few weeks or as frequent as every six months, as the dentist prescribes. This however can be different depending on the type of gum disease treatment, rate of plaque growth, personal commitment to good periodontal care, type of periodontal disease, and response to treatment.
Changes in Lifestyle
Patients should hopefully realize that brushing and flossing at least twice a day is vital to proper oral health. It is considered the best defense against periodontal disease, along with coming in for regular cleanings and oral examinations. Come see our Houston gum disease specialists at Periodontal and Implant Surgeons of Houston so we can give you an evaluation and discuss what kind of gum disease treatment would best suit your situation. You can always reach us by phone too. Call 713-785-9599 today.