Learn About Gum Diseases And The Treatments – Dr. Phillip Wallace
Periodontal Care At Smile Brighter
Gum disease has been the topic of ongoing discussions between dentists and their patients for years now. With the discovery that gum disease can be a factor in chronic and concerning health conditions, this subject has taken on a new level of importance. More than 45 percent of American adults live with some degree of gum disease, and that number only increases with age.
Signs of Gum Disease
Diagnosing gum disease in its early stages is paramount to its reversal. The problem is, without ongoing dental care, such as biannual examinations, it can be difficult to detect early-stage gum disease.
Typically, the only symptoms may be:
- Slightly red, irritated gum tissue
- Gum tissue is not smooth and shiny
- Gums bleed when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath or a bad taste
All of these symptoms can be easily missed, so it’s important to pay close attention to any changes in your oral health.
Read on to learn more about periodontal disease and its impact on the body.
How Gum Disease Begins
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissue. If left untreated, this preventable condition can lead to tooth loss and other health complications. In its early stages, gum disease is easily reversible, which is why Dr. Wallace highly recommends seeking treatment sooner rather than later.
Gum disease is most commonly a result of poor dental hygiene. Your mouth has its own microbiome filled with healthy bacteria. They work hard to not only break down your food and deliver nutrients to the rest of your body but also offer protection against foreign substances. When food particles are left in your mouth too long, it can lead to the formation of unhealthy bacteria that can throw your microbiome out of balance.
Daily oral habits like brushing, flossing before bed, and rinsing between meals are important because they keep your mouth free from debris and bacteria. If not removed, the bacteria will collect on the surfaces of the teeth and gums, combining with saliva and other food particles. This mixture may evolve into a film-like substance called plaque, which harbors millions of tiny microorganisms that secrete toxic, acidic waste that destroys gum tissue.
Without intervention, plaque can also harden to a substance called tartar (calculus), which only professional-grade dental tools can remove. This means the bacteria have an easier time infecting your gums.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a preventable treatment that progressively worsens if left unchecked. There are four stages to gum disease:
- Gingivitis—The first stage of gum disease is completely reversible with proper treatment and the development of a consistent oral health regimen. You may not experience pain or noticeable symptoms in this stage.
- Early (or Slight) Periodontitis—In this stage, unhealthy bacteria have spread to the soft tissues of your gums and reached the underlying bones. “Pockets” will then start to form, which can result in loose teeth, tooth loss, and severe pain.
- Moderate Periodontitis—During this stage, the bacteria are able to enter your bloodstream via the blood vessels in your mouth. This can lead to a weakened immune system and increased chances of developing health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. You may also experience malocclusion (tooth shifting), gum sensitivity, and additional tooth loss.
- Advanced Periodontitis—In this stage, extraction is the only option to preserve the health of your smile. In addition to the other symptoms, you may experience inflamed, swollen, and painful gums that make even smiling and eating painful. You may also experience bone loss and severe halitosis (bad breath).
Treating Gum Disease
The standard of practice in dentistry has been to remove plaque and tartar with a dental cleaning procedure called root planing and scaling. When your gums become infected due to tartar or plaque, removal of these substances requires addressing areas both above and below the gum line. However, on their own, root planing and scaling are only somewhat effective, as they serve as a temporary fix.
At Smile Brighter Willoughby Hills, we provide non-invasive, non-surgical gum disease treatment as often as possible. We often find that people respond to our treatment options quickly, eliminating the need for further, more aggressive procedures.
Dr. Stern is a certified Perio-Protect provider, having undergone the necessary training to provide non-surgical gum disease treatment in Willoughby Hills. This innovative system addresses and reduces the bacteria that cause gum disease and can be used for ongoing gum disease management which can promote a healthy oral balance.
Perio-Protect is a great accompaniment to the physical removal of plaque because this treatment delivers a solution deep into periodontal pockets where bacteria is rapidly reproduced. Solutions are customized for patient needs, with the most common solution including oxygenating and oxidizing agents. Those with oxidation power chemically remove bacteria and clean out the wounds in the gum tissue.
More advanced forms of periodontal disease may require additional treatment. Our dentists and dental team provide gum therapy using FDA-cleared laser technology for this purpose. Laser gum treatment gently and accurately removes diseased tissue and promotes the growth of healthy gum tissue.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the later stages of gum disease, the bacteria that cause the condition are able to reach your bloodstream. This bacteria can damage your other internal systems and increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and even cancer.
Your oral health is our main concern. In many cases, gum disease can be handled without the need for surgical treatment. Contact our Willoughby Hills office today by calling (440) 210-0999 for your consultation and non-surgical gum treatment.
Gum disease is largely preventable. Luckily, there are many things you can do on your own to protect yourself from this condition:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day—Using a soft-bristled toothbrush, brushing your teeth and tongue after meals can keep food debris and particles from your mouth.
- Flossing at least once a day—If you can only manage once a day, do so at night to avoid going to bed with food particles between your teeth.
- Rinsing between meals—Rinsing between meals is a quick and easy way to keep your mouth clean.
- Enhancing your diet— Sugary foods and drinks cause damage to your oral health by prompting your mouth to produce more acids to break them down, which can eat away at the protective layer of your teeth (enamel). Sugar also attracts bacteria, which can be even more detrimental if plaque and tartar are already present.
- Understanding your risk factors—Learning what factors make you more susceptible to gum disease can be incredibly helpful in mitigating gum disease in tandem with a treatment plan.
- Scheduling a dental appointment—Even with a consistent at-home oral hygiene routine, there are places in between teeth that only specialized dental tools can reach. Scheduling an appointment at our Willoughby Hills office at least once every six months can make all the difference in your oral health. If you are at a higher risk, Dr. Wallace may recommend more frequent visits.
There are many factors that increase your risk of developing gum disease, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Poor nutrition or vitamin deficiencies
- Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart or kidney problems, osteoporosis, or asthma
- A family history of gum disease
- Hormonal changes (including those due to pregnancy)
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Underlying health conditions that negatively affect your immune system such as autoimmune diseases or cancer
- Medications that reduce saliva flow, affect the gums, or cause dry mouth
Unfortunately, gum disease won’t go away without proper interventions. Gum disease is largely preventable and reversible by combining routine visits to our Willoughby Hills office with a consistent at-home oral hygiene routine.
If you are hesitant to seek treatment due to dental anxiety, Dr. Wallace prioritizes patient comfort so that you can receive care without stress.
Protect Your Periodontal Health Today
At Smile Brighter, we’re your support team and want to ensure your oral health and overall wellness remain in peak condition. Gum disease can have a long-lasting and painful impact on your oral health, so don’t hesitate to seek treatment. If you’d like to learn more about our non-surgical approach to gum disease or to schedule an appointment at our Willoughby Hills office, call us at (440) 210-0999 today.