Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is the top reason for tooth loss in adults and because it is virtually painless, many patients do not know they have the disease! It involves serious bacterial infections that destroy the gum attachment and supporting bone that holds your teeth in your mouth. Certain factors can increase a patient's risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
While it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, some symptoms can include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Gum disease is also linked to other systemic diseases. Controlling your gum disease can reduce your health risks of:
- Heart Disease and Stroke
- Respiratory Diseases
- Pre-term Low Birth Weight and other Pregnancy Complications
If you've been diagnosed with gum disease, there are a variety of treatment options depending on the complexity of your situation and the severity of the problem. We always start with the most conservative and least invasive options, including non-surgical therapies and deep cleanings. In more advanced cases, additional surgical treatment may be necessary.
The first line of defense against the spread of gum disease is a unique type of cleaning called “scaling and root planing.” In this procedure, an ultrasonic cleaning device is used to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth where regular cleaning devices can't reach: under the gum line on the tooth and the root. The goal is to leave a healthy, clean tooth and root surface that makes it easier for the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth.
If gum disease treatment is initiated before it becomes severe, scaling and root planing may be the only treatment you need. However, as with any dental procedure, your home care is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth and ensuring that our treatments are successful. In order to maintain a healthy mouth and resist future occurrences of gum disease, you must brush and floss daily, eat a healthy diet, avoid tobacco use, and have regular dental checkups.
Surgical Treatment Options
If the tissue or bone surrounding your teeth is too damaged to be repaired with non-surgical treatment, several surgical procedures are available to prevent severe damage and restore a healthy smile. We will recommend the procedure that is best suited to the condition of your teeth and gums. Several of the surgical treatment options include:
In a healthy mouth, the teeth are firmly surrounded by gum tissue and securely supported by the bones of the jaw. Periodontal disease damages these tissues and bones, leaving open spaces around the teeth that we call pockets. The larger these pockets are, the easier it is for bacteria to collect inside them, leading to more and more damage over time. Eventually the supportive structure degrades to the point that the tooth either falls out or needs to be removed.
During pocket reduction procedures (also known as “gum surgery”), we fold back the gum tissue and remove the bacteria hiding underneath, as well as the hardened plaque and tartar that have collected. We re-shape the tissues around the teeth and stitch the healthy tissue back into place. Now that the tooth and root are free of bacteria, plaque, and tartar, and the pockets have been reduced, the gums can reattach to the teeth.
When the bone and tissue supporting the teeth has been lost due to severe gum disease, we can restore these areas with a regeneration procedure. During this process, we begin by folding back the gum tissue and removing the bacteria, plaque, and tartar. Then, depending on the extent of tissues destruction, we may perform a bone graft to stimulate new bone growth in conjunction with tissue growth factors to repair the areas that have been destroyed by the disease.
For additional information on periodontal and implant treatments, please check the services page or call our office at 503-222-9961.