There are several terms associated with gum disease. You may hear it called gingivitis, periodontitis, or even reference to the buildup of calculus or development of deep gum pockets. These terms and more are all part of a dental condition known as periodontal disease. This means that the gum tissue has an active bacterial infection. If the infection is not treated, it can spread to the jawbone, where it can cause bone damage and ultimately, result in the loss of teeth. Our staff at Periodontal Associates is trained to spot the signs and then together we can discuss treatment options specific to your level of infection, for most patients this simply means a deep cleaning!
Gum disease is a common problem in many of our adult patients, but it should not be ignored.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a common form of infection because it can arise from the normal use of our teeth. Our teeth are constantly being exposed to infection causing bacteria, it is in the food we consume, it’s in the air we breathe, and even from just being in close proximity to other people. Because we have so much contact with decay causing bacteria, it’s important to take the time at least twice a day to care for our teeth and gums through regular hygiene practice.
We need to remove plaque daily through regular brushing and flossing. If we don’t, the plaque will then dry and harden into a material we called calculus or tartar which is difficult to remove without damaging the enamel and keeps the bacteria on the teeth to do more damage.
Do I have gum disease?
There are some symptoms and signs that you can spot when looking for indications of gum disease. You may notice:
|Bleeding: You may notice blood when you spit toothpaste or mouthwash. Bleeding, even a little, is an indication of irritated gums and the presence of infection.
|Red or Puffy Gums: Just like any infected wound, gum tissue will appear red and puffy when infection is present.
|Constant Bad Breath: Bad breath can be caused by foods we eat, gut issues, or the presence of bacteria in your mouth from infected gums. Many patients also report a tangy taste.
|Visible Changes: If you can visually see that your gums have receded or pulled away from your teeth, if your teeth appear longer, or if your teeth feel loose, there are symptoms of gum tissue pulling away due to bacteria.
What Are The Treatment Options For Gum Disease?
Treatment begins with a dental exam and the review of dental x-rays. We will examine the gum tissue for signs and symptoms of gum disease. The hygienist will then measure the depth of the gum pockets. Measurements between 1 - 4mm are within the range of normal, measurements exceeding 4mm is an indication that some level of treatment may need to be discussed.
For most patients, a dental cleaning will help us better see and understand what needs to be done. The dental hygienist typically uses a tool known as an ultrasonic scaler. With it, plaque, tartar and calculus can be safely removed from the teeth and below the gum line. This process can sometimes take more than one appointment. The ultrasonic scaler uses a vibrating tip and a blast of directed water to safely remove the infected material and clean the gum pockets. Following treatment, our hygienist will then go over the area with a hand scaling tool to check each tooth. The next step is known as root planing, which is the smoothing of the tooth roots which becomes rough from the calculus buildup. Smoothing them will help prevent future buildup and make it easier to care for. In addition, root planing induces a healing response from your gum tissue, which should then reattach to the teeth creating a more firm hold.
Sometimes patients require more restorative work following scaling and root planing. This may include:
|Pocket Reduction: We will reduce the size of the pockets and help the tissue reattach to the teeth.
|Bone Graft Treatment: Bone can lose mass from the attack of infection. We want to rebuild the bone and help it regain health. A bone graft sounds intimidating but is a simple office procedure.
|Tissue Regeneration: In certain instances, we may need to help gum tissue regenerate through stimulation of the gums by replacing it in certain areas to support better attachment.
Periodontal Associates offers you a wide range of dental solutions that help to treat gum disease and repair the damage caused to your dental features. Call us today at (971) 317-8414 with any questions you might have about gum disease treatment options.