Keeping Your Gums Healthy at Spaulding Dentistry
Brushing and flossing regularly is about more than your teeth. Plaque and tartar buildup can also compromise the integrity of your gums. Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is a common condition that, with healthy oral habits and appropriate treatment, can be reversed. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to bleeding, receding gums and tooth loss. With the help of Dr. Spaulding, cases of periodontal disease can be caught early and treated before they progress.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, affects more than 47% of all adults over the age of 30. When important oral hygiene habits such as brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist every six months fall by the wayside, it allows plaque to accumulate. Over time, this will lead to infection in the gums.
There are three stages of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Most periodontal disease is caught while it is still in the gingivitis stage. This makes it easier for Dr. Spaulding to treat it quickly and prevent symptoms from progressing any further. During this stage, you may notice your gums becoming red and inflamed. When treated promptly, gingivitis can be reversed without any lasting effects.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it develops into periodontitis as the infection spreads from the gums to the jawbone. You’ll notice that your gums start receding to form pockets, making it easier for bacteria to build up. Without treatment, periodontitis can cause severe pain and other health complications.
If periodontitis is allowed to progress to advanced periodontitis, your gums will recede further. This causes the pockets to deepen and harbor more infection. During this stage, your teeth may loosen and eventually fall out.
Early Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
If you’re in the early stages of gum disease, you may experience some or all of the following symptoms:
- Bad breath or a bad taste that won’t go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that pull away from your teeth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, Spaulding Dentistry can help. Call (404) 634-5738 today to schedule an appointment.
Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease
There are a vast number of factors that can put you at risk for periodontal disease. Some of these are within our control, such as oral hygiene and smoking. But there are just as many factors that can’t be helped. You may be at an increased risk of gum disease if you have:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Genetic predisposition
- Misaligned teeth
- A tobacco habit
- Certain mental health disorders
- Underlying immuno-deficiencies
- Dental fillings that have become defective
- Taking medications that cause dry mouth
- Dental restorations that no longer fit properly
- Female hormonal changes, such as during a pregnancy
Treating Gum Disease
The first course of treatment is the easiest. Brushing and flossing every day and scheduling regular visits for cleaning and exams is the first line of defense against gum disease. Professional cleanings break down tartar buildup in a way that is nearly impossible to do at home.
At your regular appointment, Dr. Spaulding will examine your teeth and gums to determine the severity of your periodontal disease and discuss further treatment options with you.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a professional deep cleaning method used for patients suffering from mild to moderate gum disease. Our Decatur dentist, Dr. Spaulding, uses an ultrasonic dental tool to thoroughly clean your gums and remove built-up plaque and tartar.
This treatment smooths out any rough surfaces on the tooth and roots to prevent bacteria from settling on the freshly sanitized area, providing a healthy, clean surface that promotes gum reattachment and rehabilitation.
A gingivectomy is a procedure that consists of the total removal of a portion of the gum from in and around a tooth or teeth to treat gum disease. This procedure is performed when the gums have been pulled away from the teeth, creating deep pockets. A gingivectomy is recommended when gum disease hasn’t yet damaged the bone supporting the teeth.
Pocket Depth Reduction
Pocket depth reduction surgery, otherwise known as flap surgery, lifts gum tissue away from the bone of your teeth and roots to allow access to the pockets of bacteria which may accumulate behind the gums. Bacteria is cleared away and accumulated tartar is removed from the surface of teeth. After sterilization, the gum tissue is sutured into place around the base of the teeth to promote healthy gum growth.
Depending on your case, either a connective-tissue gum graft or a pedicle gum graft may be the optimal solution to restore healthy tissue to the roots of your teeth. These procedures address receding gums by integrating donor gum tissue or extending the tissue of your gums to achieve optimal coverage.
Frequently Asked Questions
After deep cleaning, any swelling or discomfort should subside within a couple of weeks. The time will vary from patient to patient, depending on the extent of their infection. To promote gum healing and keep your mouth free of bacteria, you’ll want to follow any instructions given to you by Dr. Spaulding and rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. We also recommend using over-the-counter pain medications to ease any discomfort or swelling you may experience after a deep cleaning.
When caught early on, gum disease can be cured with professional deep cleanings combined with excellent oral hygiene practices. However, once the infection has progressed into periodontitis, the gums and bone become damaged and can lead to lifelong oral health effects.
Fortunately, you can improve your oral health and decrease your risk of developing infections by brushing twice a day, flossing routinely, and rinsing between meals.