Treatment Options for Gum Disease in Harker Heights
Periodontal, or gum, disease is a bacterial infection that affects gums, bone, and tissue in your mouth. It is also referred to as “silent disease” because often patients don’t experience any symptoms, including pain, until the disease is advanced. It’s a serious condition that can lead to pain, bleeding, tooth loss, and other serious health issues if left untreated.
The first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, affects only the gums. When teeth are not properly brushed and flossed a film called plaque coats your teeth and gums. The bacteria it contains causes inflammation. Your gums may become red and swollen, and they might eventually bleed. The good news is, you can remove plaque yourself if you practice good oral hygiene, by diligently cleaning your teeth and gums. We can also remove plaque during a regular teeth-cleaning procedure.
When plaque persists it can eventually harden into calculus, also called tartar. That buildup can be removed only by a dental health professional.
When gingivitis is not treated, it progresses to a more advanced and more destructive stage called periodontitis. At this stage, not just the gums but also the bone and the tissues that surround and support the teeth are affected. You may experience pain, bleeding, receding gums, gums pulling away from the teeth, and, in severe cases, tissue breakdown, loose teeth, and tooth loss.
How is your health affected?
Periodontal disease can seriously affect your overall health, leading to tooth loss (which has been linked to a decrease in life expectancy), and possibly affecting such serious health conditions as diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
You run a higher risk of developing gum disease with these factors, conditions, and activities:
- Mouth breathing
- Medications that cause dry mouth
- Teeth grinding
- Crooked teeth
- Defective fillings and bridges
- Existing immunodeficiencies
- Some medical conditions (for example, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis)
- Poor nutrition
- Poor dental hygiene
- Hormonal changes (such as pregnancy).
What to Expect During Your Visit
At Knights Family Dentistry, we’ll do our best to assess your dental health and detect any signs of gum disease. We will:
- Examine your mouth, including gums and teeth, for signs of inflammation.
- We’ll also check the pockets around the teeth for signs of bacterial infection, and measure how far your gums may have receded.
- Discuss your medical history and habits that could be risk factors (like smoking and medical conditions such as diabetes)
- Take X-rays of all of your teeth and gums.
If we detect gum disease in its early stages (gingivitis), we will offer a professional cleaning that will remove plaque or tartar. To treat cases of the more severe periodontal disease, we offer a deep-cleaning procedure that might require a few visits. During those visits, we will perform a procedure called scaling and root planing, by first removing the buildup of plaque and/or tartar in each periodontal pocket and then smoothing the root surfaces of the teeth. After the treatment, the gums are expected to reattach to the teeth and heal. To help control infection and pain, we might offer you appropriate medication.
If the structures supporting the teeth have experienced extensive damage and advanced treatment options are needed, we’ll be happy to refer you to a periodontist, an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease. Treatment options may include surgery to reduce periodontal pockets, and gum and bone grafts.
Gum Disease Management and Prevention
The best way to diagnose, prevent, and manage gum disease is to practice regular, good oral hygiene, and visit your dentist every six months for checkups (or more often if you are at higher risk or experiencing symptoms). Early detection, along with regular brushing and flossing, is your best defenses against this common disease.
Your dentist may also suggest making some lifestyle changes to improve treatment results. For example, smoking can impede healing, so it might help to quit if you’re being treated for gum disease.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease
Do you offer gum disease treatment for kids?
Yes, we offer pediatric treatment of gum disease (prophylaxis, deep cleanings, periodontal maintenance).
Does the deep cleaning hurt?
The procedure is usually painless, and we’ll do everything we can to make you comfortable.
How long does the treatment take?
It depends on the type of treatment you choose and your needs. If you need a regular cleaning to remove plaque or tartar, it shouldn’t take more than one visit. Other treatment, such as deep cleanings and periodontal maintenance, might require several visits and follow-ups.