What Is Periodontitis?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an infection of the tissues that hold the teeth in place. It is largely caused by poor oral hygiene but other factors, like smoking, hormonal changes (such as during pregnancy) and certain systemic diseases can lead to periodontal disease. There are three stages of periodontal disease:
Gingivitis is the mildest stage of periodontal disease. During this stage, the gums can become red, swollen or bleed easily. Gingivitis can be reversed with proper at-home oral hygiene and professional care.
If gingivitis is untreated, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line, damaging the gums and tissues that support the teeth. During this stage, known as periodontitis, the gums begin to separate from the teeth, forming pockets that can become infected.
During advanced periodontitis, the pockets between the gums and teeth have deepened. If left untreated, this can ultimately lead to tooth loss.
Gum Disease Symptoms
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swollen, red or sensitive gums
- Gum recession
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Bleeding gums (especially while brushing or flossing)
- Pus buildup between the teeth and gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that appear to have shifted
If allowed to grow out of control, harmful oral bacteria can even affect systemic health. Scientific research shows that gum disease can contribute to diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other health conditions. For this reason, it is imperative to take care of your teeth and gums, and seek help for gum disease.
Preventing Gum Disease
Gum disease is not only treatable, but also highly preventable. Taking steps to maintain your oral health not only minimizes your risk of developing gum disease but also helps you avoid extensive and costly dental treatment in the future. Here is what you can do to minimize your risk of developing gum disease:
- Brush your teeth twice a day: Regularly brushing your teeth removes food debris and bacteria responsible for plaque. Brush your teeth using a soft-bristled tooth, brushing with tooth-wide, circular strokes.
- Floss daily: Flossing between teeth removes debris and food particles that are hard to remove with a toothbrush.
- Visit the dentist every six months: Your dentist can examine your teeth and gums, and detect gum disease before it shows any visible symptoms.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking cigarettes and using other tobacco products greatly increases the risk of gum disease.
Regular Periodontal Therapy Saves Smiles
Protecting your periodontal health is important for preserving your teeth and preventing the progression of gum disease. At 5 Mile Smiles, we offer an array of treatment options for gum disease, including:
- Scaling and root planing is a deep dental cleaning procedure Dr. Keefe offers this procedure to patients with current or developing gum disease. Not all patients need this level of cleaning, but it is key for patients concerned with gingivitis. Treatment involves careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus from deep periodontal pockets to remove bacterial toxins.
- Root surface debridement (RSD) is a procedure for cleaning the root surface of the tooth. Over time, calcified deposits in your gum pockets can make the surface of your tooth rough and difficult to keep clean. Dr. Keefe uses root surface debridement to remove these deposits and slow the progression of gum disease.
If non-surgical treatments are not enough to restore health, surgical intervention may be necessary. Surgical techniques include the following:
- Bone and or tissue grafting to promote bone and tissue re-growth.
- Pocket elimination surgery to reduce pockets that have formed between the teeth and gums.
- Bone surgery to reshape bone and eliminate craters that have formed that potentially harbor harmful bacteria.
How Often Should I Visit the Dentist If I Have Gum Disease?
We strongly recommend all patients with active gum disease come in for deep cleanings every three months, but case management is highly individualized. Routine dental exams and cleanings are very important even if you don’t have gum disease.
Contact a Periodontist Today
If you would like to learn more about gum disease, schedule a consultation with Dr. Jason Keefe. Contact 5 Mile Smiles in Spokane, Washington to schedule your personal periodontal evaluation and cleaning today.
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– Joey Waner
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– Lyn B