By catching gum disease in its earliest stages or by preventing it to begin with by good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups and teeth cleanings, you can minimize the risk of losing your teeth prematurely.
When we speak of “gum disease,” the reference is to any serious damage to gum tissues whatsoever. But there are two distinct stages to be aware of. Gingivitis is the earlier, less severe stage. It involves the gums becoming inflamed, reddened, and easily bleeding. Periodontitis, on the other hand, begins when a gap forms between your periodontal tissue and your teeth. These gaps harbor pockets of bacterial infection that continue to spread below your gum line. Eventually, tooth roots and supporting bone tissues can deteriorate until teeth loosen and fall out.
Bacterial build-up due to plaque formation is the root cause of all forms and stages of gum disease. Flossing between teeth, picking away plaque build-up along the gum lines, brushing after every meal, and using an antiseptic mouth rinse in the morning and just before bed all greatly reduce your risk. Other factors that can contribute to gum disease or to a receding gum line that exposes teeth to danger, include: smoking tobacco products, drinking alcoholic beverages, eating excessive amounts of high-sugar foods, the use of certain medications, and genetic predisposition.
Identifying the Symptoms of Gum Disease
Regular brushing and flossing and a healthy diet are the most important ways to reverse gingivitis or earlier stages of periodontal disease. But you also need to know what symptoms to look for. If your gums are hyper-sensitive, noticeably swollen, or pulling away from your teeth at points, you need to act to protect your teeth and oral health. Tooth sensitivity, combined with gumline recession, can also be a tell-tale sign of the onset of gum disease. If you already have excessive bleeding, pus pockets, or teeth that shift loosely when you talk or eat, you need to see your periodontist immediately.
Treatments for Periodontal Problems
When gum infection or deterioration have already occurred, a dental specialist called a periodontist can treat the problem and save your teeth. One of the most basic gum-disease treatments is called “scaling and root planing.” It involves removing encrusted plaque at and below the gum line. Laser-assisted surgeries of this kind will reduce gum bleeding, speed up healing, and increase overall effectiveness. Gum flap surgery and bone or gum tissue grafts are used in more advanced cases. And if some teeth have already been lost, dental implants can replace them.
Medications can be used along with or instead of scaling and planing. Examples include: prescription-level anti-gingival mouth rinse, antiseptic chips, antibiotic gels, and enzyme suppressants.
Most Americans have some level of gum deterioration and could use a periodontal check-up, along with improved at-home oral hygiene habits. The best way to save your teeth is by preventing gum problems or catching and correcting them early, but periodontal treatments are available for serious gum infection or recession. Dental implants can replace what is already lost even as you work to protect your remaining original teeth.
For a thorough dental check-up or periodontal treatment in Ormond Beach, Florida, contact Dr. Kenzik’s periodontal office.