Gum Disease: Easily Preventable & Treatable

If you’re experiencing red, bleeding, or swollen gums, or have noticed that your gums seem to be pulling back from your teeth, it’s likely that you have gum disease. You’re also not alone. About half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease.

The good thing? Your dentist can easily treat gum disease and prevent some of its more dire consequences, such as tooth decay, loss and a possible increase in your likelihood of serious health problems such as heart attack and stroke.

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The term “gum disease” refers to an infection of the bones and tissues that surround and support your teeth. Human mouths contain lots of bacteria. Brushing and other hygienic practices can manage this bacterium but, if you don’t properly care for your oral health, these bacteria can build up over time and cause plaque and tartar to cover your teeth. Over time, tartar can cause harm to the gums, to your teeth and the bone that supports them.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 47.2 percent of adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease. Among adults age 65 and older, the incidence of gum disease climbs to more than 70 percent. Even young people are not immune to gum disease, as many young men and women under the age of 18 exhibit symptoms of mild to moderate gum disease.

Some common symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed often when you’re brushing or flossing
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gums that recede from the teeth
  • Teeth that appear to be loose for no reason
  • Pus draining from the gums
  • Changes in how your teeth fit together when you bite.

If you’re suffering from one or more of these symptoms, it’s worth your time to visit your general dentistry practice for a check-up.

Treatment Options for Gum Disease

Your dentist has several options for treating gum disease, depending on what type of gum disease you have and some individual health circumstances.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is mild compared to the later stages of the disease. Red, swollen gums typically indicate the presence of gingivitis. Gingivitis is easy to treat; your dentist will use metal instruments or a cleaning device that shoots jets of highly pressurized water to remove plaque from your teeth. The dentist will then recommend that you regularly brush your teeth, floss them, and use mouthwash. gum - disease

Follow this advice. It’s easy, and it can help prevent gingivitis from advancing into periodontitis.

If you have periodontitis, a more advanced form of gum disease, treating your problem may be trickier. Your dentist’s first option will likely be scaling and root planing. In this treatment, your dentist will scrape and remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and root surfaces, and then smooth away rough surfaces on your roots to keep bacteria from accumulating there again.

Scaling and root planing can be uncomfortable—your dentist will likely apply a local anesthetic. It may also require more than one visit. After scaling and root planing, your dentist may place antibiotic gel in the pockets of your gums. Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed.

If scaling and planing don’t help, or your gum disease has caused severe damage, there are some more aggressive surgical options your dentist may suggest. periodontal - disease

For example, if your gum tissue is not fitting tightly around your tooth and you’re having trouble keeping the deep pocket area clean, your dentist may recommend periodontal pocket reduction surgery. This procedure involves lifting back the patient’s gums, removing tartar, and then suturing the gums back in place to fit snuggly.

If significant portions of bone around your teeth have been destroyed by gum disease, your dentist may try a bone graft. Your dentist will take bovine bone or bone harvested from you or another person and graft it to the area where bone is insufficient.

Soft tissue grafts can help rebuild diminished gums. If gum disease has significantly caused your gums to recede, your dentist can reinforce the gums with a soft tissue graft. Tissue from the roof of your mouth will be stitched in the area where your gums receded and will fuse with that tissue to create fuller, stronger gums.

Guided tissue regeneration can help patients regrow healthy gum and bone. This procedure is done alongside pocket reduction surgery. During the surgery, your dentist will insert bone grafts or tissue regenerating proteins as needed. Then, the dentist will insert a mesh between your bone and gum tissue. This mesh will prevent gum tissue from growing into space where bone tissue should be, which will allow bone and tissue to regrow properly.

Bone surgery helps reduce the likelihood of bacteria accumulation. In bone surgery for gum disease, your dentist will smooth shallow craters in the bone around your teeth. This surgery typically occurs after pocket reduction surgery.

Treatments for gum disease are available from many general dentistry or family dentistry practices, but some treatments may require the help of an oral surgeon.

Consequences of Untreated Gum Disease

Not seeking treatment for gum disease can have some serious oral and general health consequences. Your pain and discomfort from gingivitis and periodontitis will continue to increase unchecked, interfering with your life. You’ll also begin losing bone structure around your teeth. In time, you could lose your teeth. swollen - gums

A growing body of evidence links gum disease with very serious conditions. Medical professionals theorize that oral bacteria involved in gum disease can make their way into the bloodstream and travel to major organs, causing damage.

A variety of studies on links between gum disease and serious illness have found links between gum disease and heart disease, diabetes, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and stroke. It is believed that bacteria involved with gum disease causes inflammation, which contributes to these conditions.

Preventing Gum Disease

Good dental habits can help you prevent gum disease in most cases. Heredity and some medications and other medical issues can also weigh in but, for most people, good oral hygiene can help drastically reduce their chance of developing severe gum disease. Most of the things you need to do to prevent gingivitis and periodontitis are amazingly easy; it’s just a matter of developing good habits. tooth - paste

  • Brush your teeth twice each day. Once in the morning and once at night are the best times. Use a toothbrush recommended by your dentist and make sure you also use a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss your teeth once each day. Have your dental hygienist show you how, to ensure you use the proper technique when flossing.
  • Use an antibacterial mouthwash once per day. This will help kill any harmful bacteria in your mouth.
  • Avoid tobacco. Tobacco use is a big contributor to gum disease. Stay away from cigarettes and cigars, as well as chewing tobacco.
  • Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. Find a dentist with whom you’re comfortable and who will answer all your questions concerning your dental health.

Manassas Smiles offers dental services to patients in Northern Virginia, including general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, emergency dentistry, pediatric dentistry, and more. Practice members pride themselves on offering a friendly, welcoming environment to all patients. Manassas Smiles strives to provide personalized attention to each patient, working with them to achieve their goals for their dental treatment.

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