If you have noticed any issues with your gums, the importance of visiting a dentist who provides periodontal treatment or gum treatment cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, when most people think of good dental health, the first thing that comes to mind is a set of straight white teeth that are free from cavities. While this is certainly something worth aspiring to, there is another extremely important part of the mouth patients cannot afford to neglect: the supporting gums.
Our periodontists specialize in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of gum diseases and will ensure the gums are healthy and that any underlying issues are diagnosed and treated before it is too late.
What is Gum Disease?
The mouth is naturally full of bacteria. As you eat, the bacteria in your mouth can become stuck on your teeth, forming “plaque” around your teeth. Fortunately, people can get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing regularly. People will also visit a dentist biannually for deeper cleanings. When a person does not effectively remove plaque by brushing and flossing, it can harden and turn into tartar. A professional dentist can remove tartar with special tools.
If an individual does not visit a dentist in time to have plaque and tartar removed, there is a greater risk to the teeth and gums. The constant presence of tartar and plaque leads to chronic inflammation of the gums. When gums are first inflamed, it is called gingivitis, and it is the mildest form of gum disease. The common symptoms of gingivitis are red, swollen, and bleeding gums. A proper cleaning by a periodontics provider can reverse gingivitis. If an individual does not receive the effective treatment for gingivitis, it can turn into a severe version of gum disease called periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis).
When periodontal disease occurs, the gums will begin pulling away from the teeth, forming periodontal pockets of space. These pockets harbor bacteria and become severely infected, helping plaque and tartar continue to grow under the gumline. If one does not treat periodontal disease by contacting a periodontics provider in our office, it can begin to deteriorate the bones, leading to loose teeth, receding gums, and eventual tooth loss.
Health Risks Associated with Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that infects and destroys the tissues and bone that surround and support the teeth, with catastrophic results. Because it compromises the supporting bone and gums around teeth, periodontal disease can lead to teeth becoming loose and ultimately becoming lost. Unhealthy gums also link to a number of very serious health issues.
While not all the evidence is in yet, initial studies show a link between gum disease and heart disease, strokes, and difficulty controlling blood sugar (diabetes). In other words, the infection does not stay localized. In fact, it would hardly be overstating the case to say that optimum health is impossible without perfectly healthy teeth and gums.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Bacteria and plaque that settle and colonize on the surface of the teeth are easy to remove. However, the same is not always true for bacteria that collects between the teeth and under the gumline. If not treated in the earliest stage, this bacteria continues to grow under the pink gums and will infect the gums and bone, leading to bone destruction of the jaw.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis, which is the mildest form of periodontal disease, causes the gums to become red, irritated, and swollen. The gums are also likely to bleed easily when one brushes or flosses. This is the most common reason why people have bleeding gums. While there may be little or no discomfort at this stage, it is imperative one receives treatment right away.
If one does not, the gingivitis will, in all probability, advance to the much more severe version known as periodontitis, where teeth may become loose with this loss of supporting bone.
Gum Treatment: Fight Gum Disease with a Periodontist
The first step to fighting gum disease is a scaling and root planing, which is a deep cleaning that we perform on the gumline. During the scaling portion of the cleaning, we scrape off the tartar below the gumline and around it. During a root planing, we remove rough spots from the tooth roots. Germs grow in these rough spots. This procedure will help limit bleeding, inflammation, and discomfort.
We can also provide antibiotics or other medications that can fight infection and inflammation, as well as relieve discomfort. The medications we provide can work in conjunction with a scaling and root planing. If we feel as though your periodontal disease is not getting better or is causing serious problems, our periodontics provider may recommend other treatments, including surgical options. If you need treatments in addition to the less invasive ones we provide as a first defense, we can talk about your other options with you during your appointment.
To learn more about how we can help you fight gum disease, visit JPW Dental as soon as possible. The sooner you receive treatment, the sooner you can reverse the effects it has caused, or you can receive treatment to repair your gums and teeth.
Having gum recession can be frustrating, aesthetically unpleasant, and detrimental to your oral health. If you have started noticing signs of gum recession, or you just want to ensure that it never develops, we have some tips that might be helpful for you to begin utilizing.
Visit the dentist
It may sound like an obvious solution, but many people avoid visiting the dentist on a regular basis. This prevents them from realizing when they may be at risk for gum recession. When one visits a dentist for an appointment, we can notify the individual if we notice any signs of recession or gum disease. We can also direct the individual to changes that he or she needs to make to improve oral hygiene regimen. This can be invaluable information when one is trying to prevent detrimental and unsightly gum recession.
Adjust your brushing habits
When someone uses a toothbrush that is too hard or puts too much pressure on the teeth and gums, the individual is actually weakening the oral tissues. Aggressive brushing habits may seem like a good idea to deter plaque from developing, but they are actually making the teeth and gums more vulnerable to other problems like gum recession and tooth loss. Brushing teeth with a firm, but gentle pressure and circular motion is the solution. If one uses a toothbrush with hard bristles, then he or she may also consider getting medium or soft grade bristles.
Blame your genes
In some cases, people may inherit a predisposition for thin gums and gum recession. If this is the case, then the patient needs to definitely brush more gently, and consider having a gum graft before the gum recession becomes severe.
Can periodontal disease lead to receding gums?
Periodontal disease, a severe form of gum disease, is the main culprit of gum recession. To avoid developing periodontal disease, practice proper oral hygiene and visit a dentist at least twice a year for checkups and cleanings.
Once you form these habits, you should be on the road to better oral health and less likelihood of developing gum recession. Also, keep in mind that you should visit your dentist every 3-6 months if you think your gums may already be receding. A dentist will be able to keep an eye on the amount of gum tissue you are losing. We can also perform a gum graft as needed and help with extreme cases of gum recession.
Gummy Smiles and Crown Lengthening
If you have a gummy smile and your teeth appear short, a periodontist or gum specialist can help! Your teeth may actually be the proper lengths, but they’re hidden and covered with too much gum tissue. To correct this, your periodontist performs a treatment known as a dental crown lengthening procedure.
During the dental crown lengthening procedure, excess gum and bone tissue is reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth, to even your gum line, or to several teeth to expose a natural, broad smile.
Sometimes, we recommend dental crown lengthening to make a restorative or cosmetic dental procedure possible. Perhaps your tooth is decayed, broken below the gum line, or has insufficient tooth structure for a restoration, such as a crown or bridge. Crown lengthening adjusts the gum and bone level to expose more of the tooth, allowing a crown to hug more of a tooth for more stability