According to the CDC, half of Americans over 30 have periodontitis, the more advanced form of gum disease. This can lead to permanent tissue and bone damage as well as tooth loss. Gum disease has also been connected to overall body issues, including heart disease. While the presence of gum disease may be scary, there are ways to combat the affliction. In this post, your dentist explains how gum disease is identified and treated.
What Exactly is Gum Disease?
There are two main types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form of the disease. Bacteria and plaque accumulate during this stage, causing gum inflammation and irritation. Despite this discomfort, your teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets and no irreversible damage has occurred.
When gingivitis is left untreated, periodontitis will follow. This is a serious gum infection that pulls the inner layer of gum and bone away from your teeth. Pockets are formed between the teeth and gums and can become infected. Permanent bone and tissue damage can occur, and tooth loss is common.
How is it Diagnosed?
Gum disease can progress painlessly and with few indicators, but certain symptoms are still present. It’s important to alert your doctor of any of the following:
- Bloody gums, usually after brushing your teeth
- Swollen, red, tender or receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
Your dentist will look for gum pockets, jawbone deterioration and changes in tooth alignment to diagnose you with gum disease.
How is it Treated?
There are a variety of options available for treating gum disease in its various stages.
Scaling and Root Planing
This is a non-surgical, deep-cleaning procedure. You will be placed under an anesthetic by your dentist. They will then scrape away plaque and tartar from above and below your gum line. Rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth to remove bacteria and help the gums reattach to the tooth.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
Your dentist will lift your gums back to remove tartar and smooth irregular bone surfaces. Your gums are then placed so that they fit snugly around your tooth, reducing the size of the pockets and restricting bacteria growth.
Bone and Tissue Grafts
Fragments of organic or synthetic bone can be used to replace bone destroyed by gum disease. These grafts will serve as a platform for the regrowth of bone and returns stability to teeth. Tissue, usually taken from the roof of the mouth, can be used to reinforce or replace affected gums.
Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups to prevent or identify gum disease before it causes lasting damage. Catching the disease in its early stages will save you stress, money and possibly your smile.
About the Author
Dr. Dennis Stansbury has almost 50 years of experience in the dental field. He is an expert in preventive, restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. Stansbury is a member of the Southwest Academy of Restorative Dentistry. If you have further questions about gum disease, he can be reached through his website or at 903-561-1122.