What is Gum Disease
What is gum disease? Or better yet, what are they? – Gum disease is actually a group of diseases
What causes gum disease? – Most gum disease is started by dental plaque and your susceptibility to it. As it ages, if left on the teeth, it can harden into dental tartar or calculus. The plaque creates inflammation. It can be worsened by other factors such as smoking, hormonal issues and systemic diseases such as diabetes
What damage can gum disease cause? – Gingivitis, an earlier or less aggressive form of the disease, is reversible. It causes gingival swelling and bleeding. Often this is associated with blood on your toothbrush or something more serious.
Periodontitis, the more severe disease, is not reversible. It involved destruction of the bone supporting the teeth. There are different forms, and it is the #1 reason for tooth loss in the United States for adults.
What are symptoms of gum disease?
Contrary to what most people associate with dental disease/problems, pain, these periodontal diseases are not often painful. As a result, patients do not believe they have a problem because it doesn’t bother them. However, if they value their teeth or their health, the disease is bothering them by creating infection. They can literally lose all their teeth without any pain (although pain may occur in some cases). There is also increasing information that these chronic oral conditions may affect other areas of one’s health (i.e. heart, diabetes, pregnancy, etc.). Periodontal disease can also be associated with other diseases and conditions like Crohn's disease, diabetes, Down’s syndrome, etc. Smokers have an increased propensity toward periodontal disease, and smoking can increase the severity of the disease.
How is gum disease treated?
Each therapy plan is developed for each patient individually. The plan is developed after some discussion with the patient, considering their wants and needs.
Therapy can be as little as needing a professional cleaning and home care instructions, to a much more sophisticated treatment. This more sophisticated care may include:
- Non-surgical care
- Surgical care
Understandably, patients are concerned when they hear the word “surgery.” There are many different surgical procedures performed in a periodontal office. Most of them are limited to small areas, however each case must be evaluated for this therapy will yield the best result for the patient. We are happy to say that most of the patients do very well and often feel the care went much better than they expected.
What happens after treatment?
Periodontal care is usually very successful in saving a person’s teeth and creating health in a very intimate area of one’s body, their mouth. This is accomplished by completing the care plan and following the recommended recall schedule.
Periodontal disease is not curable, but is very treatable, like many other chronic diseases, like diabetes. People can live with it, but it is very important that a thorough periodontal examination be completed regularly so that if there are any future problems, they can be evaluated and treated promptly.
Following treatment completion, the patient is scheduled for a periodontal maintenance (cleaning), which differs from the regular cleaning done at your dentist’s office. It is a more thorough cleaning. Cleaning is done above and below the gun line and is geared to the periodontal patient. A more detailed periodontal examination is then completed. It is performed by an experienced hygienist that I have instructed. Upon completion of this visit, you will be examined by me, the periodontist.
You will be given feedback on your status and any concerns observed. Our hygienists primarily treat patients with moderate to advanced periodontal conditions. They have both knowledge and experience to manage these conditions as this group of patients is who we see the most of.
Regular periodontal examinations/maintenances ensure the best opportunity for long-term success. The number of yearly maintenance visits needed is determined for each individual patient