Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a serious condition that affects the gums, teeth roots, and the supporting bone. It’s the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. In fact, it’s estimated that nearly 80 percent of American adults are suffering from gum disease right now.
Dr. Michael provides gum disease treatment at Gentle Dental in Eagan, MN. There are plenty of procedures that can treat gum disease. But the best way to preserve your oral health is to prevent the disease from developing in the first place.
Below, we’ll take a brief look at the three stages of gum disease. We’ll also discuss symptoms and explore which treatments are recommended for each phase.
When gum disease first develops, it’s characterized by red, puffy, or tender gums. Oftentimes the gums will bleed when you brush or floss, and the tissue around the teeth is inflamed.
Gingivitis is typically caused by a lack of proper hygiene. When plaque and tartar sit on the teeth surfaces for too long, the gums become irritated. The redness is simply the body’s inflammatory response to these irritants.
When gum disease is detected in this early stage, it can actually be reversed. The condition can be effectively treated with regular dental cleanings and proper brushing and flossing at home. If you notice that your gums are red or tender, call our office right away. We’ll schedule you for a cleaning with our hygienist and help you get your oral health back on track.
Left untreated, gingivitis worsens. The bacteria that formed along the gum line eventually permeates the supporting tissues. Infection forms deep beneath the gums where brushing and flossing cannot reach. At this point, the surrounding bone begins to deteriorate.
Eventually, the infection erodes the bone around the teeth roots, forming periodontal pockets. These spaces harbor food particles and plaque, which only perpetuates the cycle.
Once gum disease has reached this stage, it cannot be addressed with a simple cleaning. Brushing and flossing at home helps, but it cannot reach the problematic areas far beneath the gums.
In these cases, a deep dental cleaning is necessary. Also called scaling and root planning, this procedure involves cleaning and smoothing the root surfaces. Using specialized instruments, the clinician flushes out debris, food particles, and bacteria that are trapped beneath the gums. During the treatment, patients are numbed with local anesthesia for comfort.
If periodontitis is not treated in a timely manner, it continues to progress. The pockets around the teeth roots grow larger and the teeth become more mobile. In severe cases, the teeth may start to fall out.
Advanced periodontitis is characterized by swollen, tender gums that bleed. There may also be visible pus at the gum line. At this stage, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and expose the roots. This can lead to advanced decay and a host of other oral health problems.
Surgery is necessary to address advanced periodontitis. Traditionally, an incision is created, and the gums are moved back away from the teeth so the surgeon can clean out the infection. Sometimes the bone is also recontoured to prevent bacteria from becoming trapped. Finally, the gums are repositioned, and the incisions are closed with sutures.
In some instances, periodontal laser therapy may be performed. It is less invasive than traditional surgery, as it does not require incisions or sutures. However, those with more severe disease will still require conventional surgery.
The sooner gum disease is detected, the easier it is to treat. Not only is it better for your oral health to address gum disease early, it’s also more affordable in the long run.
If you suspect that you may have gum disease, schedule a consultation at our Eagan, MN practice. Contact Gentle Dental online or call our office at (651) 452-5511.