One of the things most patients dread hearing from the dentist is, “You have serious gum disease.”
There are many reasons for this fear and unfortunately, some of that fear is founded. After all, serious gum disease usually requires serious gum disease treatments.
Recent studies show that gum disease – especially untreated gum disease – can be detrimental to a person’s overall health. Significant gum disease, left unattended over time, has even been associated with heart problems due to the dangers of prolonged inflammation. Furthermore, letting it go too far, limits gum disease treatments at your disposal.
When gingivitis gets this bad, it’s called periodontitis. The CDC reports 50% of all Americans over the age of 30 suffer from periodontitis. And while there can be more serious consequences of untreated gum disease as described above, the most common is tooth loss.
Yet, it simply doesn’t have to get to this point. With all the gum disease treatments available today, it only makes sense to catch gum disease early, fix it, and keep all your own teeth intact.
Understanding how gum disease becomes serious
Periodontitis starts with gingivitis. When bacteria and toxins from plaque remain on the teeth, it inflames surrounding tissue. This can make the gums puffy or swollen, red, and sometimes, bleed easily. At this stage, standard gum disease treatments like flossing and deep cleanings regularly at your favorite Milwaukee dental office (ahem….) work well at reversing this issue if started promptly, at the first signs of an issue.
On the other hand, if left untreated, the bacteria and toxins can begin to significantly damage gum tissue and the surrounding bone and ligaments. This can make the teeth loose and eventually fall out if not dealt with surgically or removed intentionally. But it still doesn’t have to get this far…
Non-surgical gum disease treatments
The Scaling and root planing (SRP) treatment is done at the dental office. Plaque and tartar are scraped off the teeth and gums by a process called “scaling.” Then, any remaining roughness on the roof is “planed” off to prevent bacteria from accumulating again. This entire process can take more than one visit and a local anesthetic may be used to prevent pain and discomfort.
After this process, the gums then naturally reattach to the teeth. In a few weeks, your dentist will check the status of your teeth and gums again to make sure the process worked and decide whether you need additional treatments for gum disease.
Other gum disease treatments
Pocket reduction technique
If the teeth don’t fully reattach to the gums after scaling and planing, pocket reduction or flap surgery is the next step. In this gum disease treatment, your dentist peels back the gum and removes infected tissue surgically. In most cases, this additional step should be all it takes to get the teeth to finally reattach.
If the roots of the teeth have been exposed due to gum disease, gum grafts can be used to cover the roots. This helps to reduce sensitivity and protects roots from further decay. It also helps to inhibit further gum recession and tooth loss.
Another surgical procedure that promotes the growth of new bone in areas where bone has been destroyed by periodontitis, is bone grafting. In this gum disease treatment, your dentist or periodontist gets rid of the bacteria and then places real or synthetic bone in areas where bone has been lost due to gum disease. He or she adds in tissue-stimulating proteins and your body should regrow new bone tissue.
However, despite the effectiveness of many gum disease treatments, as with most anything, the best remedy is an ounce of prevention. Taking care of your teeth and gums is the best way to prevent gingivitis and subsequently, prevent periodontitis. This includes visiting your Milwaukee dentist here at Cigno Dental, along with our dental care team who make it their mission to help you take care of your teeth and gums as well as possible to avoid gum disease for good.