For a lifetime of healthy smiling and chewing, practice good oral hygiene and visit McLean DDS regularly for professional exams and cleanings. We help you avoid or reverse gum disease with expert preventive care that allows us to identify gum problems early — before they lead to tooth loss. If you are diagnosed with gum disease, rest assured that our dentists are experienced in treatment procedures for every stage of the disease, and we are committed to helping you keep your smile for life.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is the infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. This serious problem — the major cause of tooth loss in adults — is caused by the buildup of plaque and calculus on the teeth or below the gum line. Factors that can increase the risk of developing gum disease include poor oral hygiene, smoking or chewing tobacco, crooked teeth that are hard to clean, pregnancy, diabetes, certain medications and genetics.
Help Prevent Gum Disease
Prevention is always preferred to treatment. You can minimize your risk for gum disease by:
- Eating a well-balanced diet and avoiding between-meal snacks
- Brushing twice daily with toothpaste containing triclosan, copolymer and fluoride
- Cleaning between the teeth every day by flossing or using an interdental cleaner
- Using a mouth rinse that reduces plaque and kills germs
- Visiting your dentist regularly for oral exams and professional cleanings
What Are the Symptoms?
You may not know you have gum disease because it’s usually painless. Regular dental checkups are vital to diagnosing the disease in its early stage when it can be reversed. Symptoms include:
- Tender, red, swollen and/or bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath or foul taste
- Loose or separating teeth
- Changes in your bite
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures
Types or Stages of Gum Disease
This is the earliest stage of gum disease. At this point, a professional cleaning at your dentist’s office, followed by a strict regimen of daily brushing and flossing, can reverse the disease. If gingivitis is caught in time, it will not progress to the more serious stage, periodontitis.
Chronic periodontitis can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support your teeth. As it progresses, the teeth become loose and start to shift positions in your mouth.
At this stage, tissue and bone are lost rapidly. It is believed that certain overall health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke, may be associated with severe gum disease.
Types of treatment for periodontitis depend on its stage and progression. Common treatments are:
Scaling and Root Planing
This method of “deep cleaning” removes plaque and tartar deposits from the tooth and root surfaces, effectively helping to heal gum tissues and shrink periodontal pockets. Antibacterial fibers may be inserted into the pockets between your teeth and gums to help speed healing and prevent infection. This procedure, when followed by good at-home dental care, stops the progression of gum disease.
This surgery protects your teeth from the damaging effects of gum recession. Gum recession occurs when the tissue surrounding the teeth pulls away from the tooth, exposing more of the tooth or the root. Exposed roots can cause tooth sensitivity and eventually tooth loss. During surgery, tissue from the roof of your mouth is removed and stitched to the gum around the exposed root; a tissue bank may be used as the source of the grafting material instead of the palate. An optional treatment involves cutting tissue from the gum around the tooth and pulling it up or down to cover the exposed root.
While proper oral hygiene goes a long way, gum disease can’t always be prevented. Help keep your gums healthy by visiting us regularly so we can detect and treat gum disease as early as possible. Contact us immediately if you think you have symptoms of gum disease. The earlier we see you, the better your chances are for reversal or effective treatment — and for keeping your teeth!