Periodontics is a specialization in the field of dentistry that focuses on both preventing and treating periodontal disease– also called gum disease. Periodontists also are the specialized dentists who put in dental implants.
Premier Dental Care is proud to have our own periodontist on staff who can see to your needs when it comes to health issues with your gums and receiving dental implants.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection that affects the gum surrounding your teeth as well as the tissues that support your teeth. The infection is actually painless most of the time, which makes the disease a serious problem that isn’t diagnosed until it has progressed to a dangerous degree. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss as the structure holding your teeth in place breaks down.
You may think that some loss of teeth is inevitable with aging, it is actually possible for all of your teeth to last a lifetime. One of the ways you can achieve this goal is to avoid periodontal disease, which is caused by bacteria that attack the tissues around the teeth. You may not even realize that you have gum disease because the signs and symptoms are not always apparent.
Most people who do not maintain good daily oral hygiene will develop gingivitis. If left untreated, this bacterial gum infection can progress from gingivitis to periodontitis, which results in bone loss around your teeth. As the bone tissue is lost, the gum tissues detach from the teeth and form little pockets that provide a better place for bacteria to live. As periodontal disease progresses leading to more bone loss, tooth loss can result. The good news is that at Premier Dental Care periodontal disease can be controlled, even at more advanced stages.
How do You Get Gum Disease?
The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. When plaque builds up on the teeth, the surrounding gums can easily get infected. Plaque is essentially pure bacteria, so when it spreads it can easily cause a bacterial infection that leads to gum disease.
How Do You Know if You Have Gum Disease?
Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
You can have periodontal disease with no obvious symptoms, especially if you are a smoker (nicotine reduces blood supply preventing bleeding and swelling of the gum tissues). Still, there are some important things to look for:
- Bleeding gums — Some people think that when their gums bleed, it simply means they’re brushing too hard. While brushing too hard is bad for the gums, it should not cause bleeding. Any bleeding of the gums should be considered a warning sign of gum disease.
- Bad breath — It’s very easy for plaque to collect in the spaces between the teeth, creating the perfect living conditions for bacteria that produce odorous, sulfur-containing compounds, resulting in bad breath.
- Redness or swelling of the gums — Inflammation of the gums is usually the first visible sign of periodontal disease.
- Receding gums — If you notice that your teeth look longer than they used to, it may be that your gum tissue has receded (away from the enamel), exposing some of your tooth roots.
- Sensitivity — If there is gum recession, the exposed roots may become sensitive to hot or cold.
- Periodontal abscess — Bacteria can become enclosed in a periodontal pocket and the area will fill with pus, becoming swollen and painful.
- Loose teeth — When periodontal disease results in bone loss, teeth can become loose or migrate. Tooth loss can result and may be accelerated if you are applying excessive biting forces from clenching or grinding your teeth.
If you have several of these symptoms, you should make an appointment at Premier Dental Care right away. The earlier that gum disease is diagnosed, the more likely it is that your teeth can be saved.
How is Gum Disease Different From Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is essentially gum disease in the early stages. It happens when the gums first become inflamed due to bacterial infection but no damage has been done to the bone or tissue holding the teeth in place. Gingivitis doesn’t always have to lead to gum disease, either– when diagnosed, steps can be taken to reduce inflammation before serious damage has been done.
How do You Prevent Gum Disease?
The best way to prevent gum disease is to simply practice good oral hygiene. Brush, floss, and have regular dental exams and cleanings.
Gingivitis can usually be treated by these simple steps, too. Reducing the amount of plaque in your mouth by brushing and flossing can reduce the inflammation over time. Using an antibacterial mouthwash can reduce the inflammation as well.
How do You Treat Gum Disease?
There are a variety of gum disease treatments, several of which we offer here at Premier Dental Care. Our periodontist will first diagnose the severity of your gum disease before recommending treatment.
Sometimes a professional cleaning is all that’s needed to get the disease under control. Some deep cleaning techniques can also be used where the plaque is scraped off teeth below the gum line and the tooth root is smoothed out. This technique is called Scaling and Root Planing, commonly known as “Deep Cleaning”. This procedure is performed by a dental hygienist at Premier Dental Care.
When there has been tissue and bone loss, surgical intervention is usually recommended. This can come in the form of bone or tissue grafts. It can also come in the form of guided tissue regeneration, where a protective material is put in place between the bone and gum to guide regeneration in the right direction. Osseous surgery is yet another procedure which may be indicated for advanced periodontal disease and is performed by a Periodontist.
At Premier Dental Care, we also offer a state-of-the-art laser gum disease treatment called LANAP.