Gum Disease Care (Periodontics)
When people think of dentistry, they normally think about their teeth. In fact, dentistry is as much about caring for your gums as it is your teeth. The health of one’s teeth and gums is very closely related—more closely than most people realize. We’ll explain that further.
When you brush your teeth, you are cleaning away food particles and plaque, the sticky film that forms on your teeth as bacteria thrive on the nutrients in your mouth. Think about how your mouth feels when you first wake up in the morning and you’ll know what plaque feels like. When plaque hardens into tartar, the enamel of your teeth begins to be attacked and cavities form. This process, which causes decay, also irritates and inflames your gums.
First Stage Gum Disease: Gingivitis
Your gums may now get slightly puffy and may bleed when you brush your teeth or get a dental exam. This stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. It can often be reversed by making sure your teeth are cleaned on the right schedule and improving your at-home care. The damage to your teeth and other structures of your mouth is minimal at this point.
The Next Stage: Periodontitis
If gingivitis is not reversed, you may develop periodontitis. Symptoms include:
- Gums that bleed more easily
- Red, puffy, painful gums
- Persistent bad breath or a sour taste in the mouth
- Receding gums, making the teeth look longer
- Teeth changing their positions slightly, meaning that the teeth may not fit together the same way they used to
- Teeth becoming loose
- Pus may be seen next to some teeth
At this point, the gums are not closely connected to the teeth. It is easy for bacteria to grow in these pockets between the teeth and gums. Both your upper and lower jaws will begin to lose some of their mass, which is why teeth can become loose or even be lost completely.
It is vital to prevent gum disease with good at-home care. If you see signs that gum disease is starting, you should see your dentist as soon as possible.
Treating Gum Disease
Once periodontitis is established in your gums, we need to reach under the gums to clear out bacteria and scrub out tartar that has been deposited in these hidden spaces. This process is called scaling. We also need to smooth the roots of your teeth to eliminate irregularities where bacteria can grow. This process is called root planing. This treatment is done under local anesthetic so it is not painful for you.
If there is a particular pocket that needs to heal for a while, a sustained-release antibiotic can be placed in the area to prevent the regrowth of bacteria.
If your gums have receded badly because of this diseased condition, the roots of your teeth may be exposed. In this situation, a gum graft may be needed to close the space. A small section of gum tissue would be taken from your palate or other source and be placed over the exposed root. This treatment can help stop bone loss and tooth sensitivity in the area.
Gum disease can become serious, but it is also preventable. Taking good care of your teeth every day and seeing us for regular cleanings and examinations are vital steps in its prevention. If we see any early signs of gum disease, we can show you how to eliminate it.
At Bloomfield Hills Dental Associates, we wish for all our patients to maintain healthy teeth and gums and are committed to providing excellent care for each person who comes to us for treatment. If it’s time for you to update your dental care, please don’t delay—you may be giving gum disease a chance to take hold in your mouth! Call us at 248-290-2900 and let’s get you scheduled for your next visit.