Gum Disease is a chronic infectious degenerative disease and a destructive inflammatory process that progresses and worsens, and can lead ultimately to tooth loss. It is the most underdiagnosed and untreated of all the inflammatory diseases.
Gingivitis is the early mild form of gum disease in which the gumlines appear red. Signs like bleeding or mild aching when you floss or brush are often ignored. It is our body’s reaction to the accumulation of bacteria, fungi, and their toxic by-products around the teeth and just under the gumline. Gingivitis can be reversed by adequate brushing, flossing, and routine professional cleanings. If you floss daily, biofilms do not get established, inflammation ceases, and tenderness disappears. You can acquire or heal gingivitis in about three days. There is no underlying bone loss associated with gingivitis.
Periodontitis is the more advanced form of gum disease resulting from untreated gingivitis that has progressed to destruction of the tissues and bone around the neck of the teeth, creating gum “pockets”. These are deep spaces that form when the gums pull away from the teeth in response to the infectious bacteria and their toxic by-products, which trigger a vast and destructive response from the immune system. Once bone loss occurs, only a skilled dental professional can remove the complex biofilms and calcified deposits that harbor them deep in the crevice or pocket. Once the hygienist has eradicated these toxins and their bacterial nesting sites, you have somewhat of a clean slate from which to begin fighting the bacteria again. Just know that the colonies of bacteria reform daily, so you are ultimately the one in control of your oral health.
Symptoms or Signs that you may have Gingivitis or Periodontitis
· Bad breath (Halitosis)
· Red or swollen gums
· Tender or bleeding gums
· Painful chewing
· Loose teeth
· Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
Risk Factors associated with periodontal disease:
· Other systemic illnesses such as heart disease
· Hormonal changes in girls and women
· Genetic susceptibility
How do we treat Gum Disease?
The first step in dealing with gum disease is identifying it, something our hygienists are very experienced at doing. We find that many adults have active gum disease and some areas of gum recession and bone loss. We identify areas of breakdown, susceptibility, and relative health, and then develop a treatment plan based on the individual’s needs. Our initial goal is to arrest active gum disease and establish stability, so you aren’t losing any ground. This is done by thoroughly removing accumulated irritants, coaching you on daily cleaning techniques, and assessing individual risk factors.
In our office we perform non-surgical treatment of gum disease. This means that we remove all biofilm and deposits from above and below the gumline through a method called scaling and root planing or a “deep cleaning”, which will promote healing of the gums. We may also use a low power laser or antibiotics to increase success. An additional tool that is very helpful in identifying the presence of particularly destructive bacteria is oral DNA testing. This can be especially helpful when gum disease remains active in spite all efforts to control it. In some cases we may refer you to a gum specialist for treatment of advanced gum disease or for specific problems.
Can Gum Disease be reversed? Will bone grow back?
Gum Disease cannot be reversed, meaning bone and gums that have been lost will not grow back. Our goal, through continued professional care in our office, is to halt active bone loss, stabilize and maintain bone levels around all teeth and roots, and to prevent tooth loss. In some cases, bone grafts, gum grafts, or other surgical procedures may be done to regain bone levels.