Don’t Let Gum Disease Sneak Up On You
The bad news is that gum disease is very common. The good news is that if it’s caught early enough, it’s completely reversible.
You can keep gum disease at bay with good dental hygiene and by seeing the staff at Dores Dental in Longmeadow, MA for routine dental care.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, starts with bacteria in the mouth. That bacteria combines with other particles and forms a sticky, colorless film called plaque. Even after you brush and floss, some of that plaque will remain. If you let that go, it will form tartar, which is rock-hard and can only be removed by a dental professional.
The earliest, and most common, type of gum disease is called gingivitis. With gingivitis, your gums get red and swollen and will bleed easily. If we detect gingivitis, we can usually clear it up.
Twice-yearly dental exams are important because some sign of gum disease don’t have symptoms. During a routine exam, Dr. James Dores knows what to look for before it becomes a problem that is harder and more expensive to treat.
If gingivitis is not treated, it can turn into a more severe type of gum disease called periodontitis. With periodontitis, your gums will start pulling away from your teeth and form pockets that will become infected. The symptoms of periodontitis can include:
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Red, swollen, and tender gums
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums
- Bleeding when brushing
- Sores in the mouth
- Pus between gums and teeth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way dentures fit
Eventually, if periodontitis is left untreated, the connective tissue that supports the teeth will be destroyed.
What We Will Look For During A Routine Exam
Either a dental hygienist or Dr. Dores will use a periodontal probe to measure the depths of the pockets around all of your teeth. The normal pocket depth of healthy gums is 1-3 millimeters. The deeper the pockets get, the more advanced the disease.
We’ll take dental X-rays. These will help show us if there has been any bone loss due to periodontal disease.
If you have teeth that are sensitive to cold or hot, we’ll take a look at those.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Let’s start with prevention. There are some steps you can take at home to lessen your chances of developing gum disease.
You can help prevent gum disease by adding these habits to your daily routine:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Brushing after meals helps remove food debris from between your teeth.
- Floss daily. Flossing gets into those little nooks and crannies between teeth where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is particularly important for cleaning under and around bridges or crowns.
- See your dentist regularly. Because you might not even have symptoms of gum disease early on, you might not know you have it. The earlier it’s caught, the better the chances of getting rid of it. Dr. Dores knows what to look for and what to do about it.
- If you smoke, stop. Smoking is a big cause of severe gum disease. Smoking weakens your body’s immune system, which makes it harder to fight off gum infection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if you smoke, you have twice the risk for gum disease compared to a non-smoker.
What Is The Treatment For Gum Disease?
Dr. Dores may start with a deep cleaning below the gumline. This is called scaling and root planing. Scaling involves thoroughly scraping all plaque, bacterial toxins, and tartar from your teeth and root surfaces.
Root planing smoothes all the rough areas on your roots’ surfaces, which keeps bacteria, plaque, and tartar from getting underneath the gumline again.
We may also recommend antibiotics and advise you on oral hygiene instruction to treat advanced gum disease.
If conservative therapies fail to restore your gum health, Dr. Dores may recommend pocket reduction surgery.
After Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease can come back. That’s why it’s important to keep coming to our office for regular dental visits and to continue your good oral hygiene at home. Daily cleaning can help keep plaque under control and tartar at bay.