Gum Diseases and Treatments

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Gum Disease: The Signs, Symptoms and Causes of Periodontal Disease:

Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis – is an inflammatory condition affecting the tissues surrounding a tooth, and is the leading cause of tooth loss. Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the tissues in the mouth and potential precursor of gum disease.

Once gum disease sets in, the toxins produced by the bacteria damage the teeth’s connective tissue and bone, effectively destroying them and fostering tooth loss.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

You may have gum disease and not even know it. Often, there is no pain and periodontal diseases may not exhibit symptoms until serious bone loss has taken place. However, it is important to see your dentist or periodontist at the first sign of these common symptoms of periodontal disease:

• Red, swollen or tender gums
• Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
• Gums that pull away from teeth
• Loose or separating teeth
• Pus between gums and teeth
• Persistent bad breath
• Change in your bite (occlusion) and/or fit of removable dentures

Causes of Gum Disease

There are a number of causes of gum disease, each of which can be corrected and controlled. The causes of gum disease include:

Improper Dental Hygiene: If plaque is not removed through daily dental hygiene practices and regular professional dental cleanings, bacteria may set in and cause gingivitis, which may eventually result in gum disease.

  • Organic Changes in the Mouth: Changes that occur in metabolism and hormone levels during pregnancy, puberty and menopause may affect the organic balance in the mouth, and make teeth more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Medical Conditions: Serious conditions that affect the body’s ability to produce sugar (such as diabetes or kidney disease) may contribute to periodontal disease. Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control has found an association between certain illnesses (including diabetes, stroke and heart attack) and gum disease. Finally, medications used to treat medical conditions may produce the overgrowth of gums. Overgrown gums are more susceptible to bacteria, and therefore gum disease.
  • Saliva Flow Inhibitors: Certain medications that produce oral side effects or dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia) may contribute to a reduction of protective saliva flow, and potentially to gum disease. Seniors may be more susceptible to dry mouth syndrome because of the natural reduction of salivary flow associated with age.
  • Poor Functional Habits: Teeth grinding or clenching may impair the surrounding tissue and is a possible contributor to gum disease

There are a number of treatments available for gum disease sufferers, each of which varies depending on the severity of the condition.

Gum Disease Treatments

In order to determine the treatment modality that best meets your needs, we are going to evaluate the extent of the damage caused by gum disease to develop a conservative initial plan. A dental hygiene evaluation will determine if plaque (soft deposits on the tooth) is being removed on a daily basis.

Next, calculus (also known as tartar) must be removed through a professional cleaning, and sometimes through the additional procedures of deep scaling and root planning. A local anesthetic may be administered during these procedures. We may also administer antibiotics to treat bacteria housed in the pocketed areas of the gum, and recommend a medicated mouthwash to be used as a regular part of your home regimen.
If periodontitis has progressed to the extent where you have deep periodontal pockets and considerable bone loss, surgical therapy may be required.

Even when your periodontitis is under control you will still need to follow ongoing periodontal procedures to maintain your oral health. This ongoing treatment lets us evaluate your periodontal health and ensures that your infection stays under control. During these re-evaluation appointments, your mouth will be examined, new plaque and calculus will be removed, your teeth will be professionally polished and your bite will be checked.

Advanced Gum Disease Treatments

Tissue Regeneration

  • If the bone has been destroyed, we are employing a new technique called tissue regeneration, which involves grafting the bone to offer a better chance of bone re-growth. To strengthen thin gums, soft tissue grafts may also be used.
  • Guided tissue regeneration involves the insertion of a membrane to help in the bone regeneration process. This is sometimes useful during periodontal surgery.

Pocket Elimination Surgery
In some cases, surgery may be part of the treatment plan to help prevent tooth loss resulting from gum disease. Here are some surgical options:

  • Periodontal flap surgery may be performed to reduce the pocket gap between the teeth and gums.
  • If the jaw bone has craters housing bacteria and contributing to gum disease, the bone may be reshaped through bone surgery to eliminate the craters and help prevent future recolonization of bacteria growth.

Laser Therapy
Laser therapy may be used to reduce pocket size and helps to restore the connective tissue. Read more on Laser Therapy