Healthy gums are the foundation for a healthy smile. If the picture that we envision is a beautiful and healthy smile, then the gums are the frame to that portrait. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that half of all Americans age 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease.
One of the most common signs of gum disease is bleeding gums, called gingivitis. This is due to a lack of dental care and poor oral hygiene which enables harmful bacteria to locate below the gum tissue and harden into tartar. This causes the gums to begin bleeding. The effects of gum disease have been documented in numerous scientific journals suggesting a link to heart disease and/or dementia.
Keeping your gums healthy has major benefits for your overall health. Poor gum health can lead to tooth damage, changes in the fit of your bite, and drastic shifting of your teeth. Additionally, patients suffering from poor gum health are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease and respiratory infections. Dr. Huckin screens for the signs of gum disease during routine dental visits. If periodontal therapy is suggested to you, know that you have several options on how to potentially proceed.
Stages of Gum Disease
There are four different stages of gum disease. The first is gingivitis. It’s the only stage of gum disease that’s reversible. Plaque builds up on your teeth around the gum line, causing irritation and inflammation. Many of the signs of gingivitis are painless, which is why so many people miss it. Bleeding gums are often the most noticeable. Gingivitis can be reversed with diligent brushing and flossing, along with antibacterial rinses if needed.
Gingivitis then evolves into slight periodontal disease. At this stage, it can no longer be reversed. The bacteria are more aggressive and the infection starts to spread into the bone, starting to cause bone loss. Pockets form and are filled with bacteria and food particles. Scaling and root planing is the solution for this stage. The pockets are cleaned out and tooth roots are smoothed down so that the gums can reattach correctly to the bone.
Next is moderate periodontal disease. Instead of just attacking the bone, the bacteria are now attacking your bloodstream as well. There are also more and more bacteria building up. Scaling and root planing is used at this stage as well.
Last is severe periodontal disease. When it gets to this stage, the disease has completely evolved and is attacking your body. Your gums are oozing pus, it’s painful to chew and talk, and your teeth are getting loose and falling out. The impacts of gum disease can be impacting your entire body. At this stage, surgery is the only way to manage the disease.
Our dental hygienists are highly trained and participate in continuing education to stay up to date with the latest techniques in gum disease management. They can halt the progression of the disease using various procedures. We are committed to improving your oral health and compassionate about providing the personalized care you need to enjoy long-term gum health.
Periodontal Therapy by Dr. William Huckin
The first step is to determine the stage of your gum disease and if there is any tissue damage. Dr. Huckin will evaluate the current condition of your gums and recommend the most suitable dental services. Our treatment options include:
- Scaling and root planing: Following a thorough cleaning, scaling and root planing is a procedure to remove plaque from the deep pockets where tooth roots may be exposed. This removes bacteria that have found their way deep into the gum line, which could be causing your symptoms.
- Oral surgery: If your gum tissue is extensively damaged, Dr. Huckin may suggest an oral surgery to restore your smile.
- Antibacterial rinse: To prevent gum disease from returning, Dr. Huckin may recommend that you incorporate an antibacterial rinse into your dental hygiene routine. This extra step can be the difference between improving the long-term stability of your gum health.
Gum Disease FAQs
What is the difference between plaque and tartar?
Plaque is a sticky bacterial film that can build on the teeth and gums. If plaque is not removed, it hardens to form tartar. Tartar is more difficult to remove than plaque because it is a calcified deposit. Only dental professionals can effectively remove tartar from the mouth.
Why is periodontal therapy necessary?
Gum disease treatment is necessary to prevent further complications from periodontitis. Gum disease is highly damaging. If a bacterial infection like periodontitis enters the bloodstream, it can affect the heart’s health. Harmful bacteria can cause inflammation that affects the heart, leading to an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke, and heart disease. Periodontol therapy removes harmful bacteria and can prevent additional problems like tooth loss and receding gum tissue.
How do you reverse gingivitis?
Gingivitis, or gum inflammation, is an early sign of gum disease. Gum inflammation is easily reversible with flossing, brushing, and routine dental visits. If you experience bleeding gums when you brush your teeth, but you do not floss regularly, you will begin to notice a change in your smile once you begin flossing. A good oral hygiene routine and professional care can prevent gingivitis from becoming gum disease.
What will I feel after scaling and root planing?
Inflamed and infected gum tissue is already sensitive. As a result, you can feel increased soreness or discomfort for a week following scaling and root planing. After your scaling and root planing treatment, you may feel discomfort and tenderness at the treatment sites. Depending on the extent of your periodontal infection, you may experience bleeding and sensitivity. You may take aspirin or ibuprofen and use toothpaste for sensitive teeth when gently brushing your teeth and gums.
How often should I visit the dentist if I require regular periodontal therapy?
You may visit our office every two to four months if you have moderate to severe gum disease. You will require more frequent dental visits so we can track any developments in your oral health. It is also beneficial to receive periodontal therapy regularly to remove harmful bacteria and prevent reinfection.
Can gum disease cause tooth loss?
You can experience deep gum pockets and loose teeth in more advanced cases of gum disease. Once an infection affects the tooth roots, it can be difficult to reverse the damage.
Chronic Gum Disease
If you experience chronic gum disease, Dr. Huckin can assist you in coming up with a treatment plan. We suggest our patients visit us every six months, though we may ask you to come in more often so that we can keep a close eye on the health of your gums. Additionally, you should always contact our office to schedule an appointment if you suspect you are experiencing the early signs of gum disease.