Don’t Ignore Bleeding Gums
You have probably heard about periodontal disease (gum disease) and the dangers it can pose to your oral health. Gum disease, caused by an infection in the gums, can occur without any pain and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. It is important to visit your Goose Creek dentist every six months so that they can help keep your mouth free of gum disease.
How do I get gum disease?
When plaque is left to buildup on your teeth, pockets of toxic bacteria can form between your teeth and gums (just beneath the gum line). If the pockets continue to grow, the gums will separate from the teeth, resulting in loose teeth, tooth loss, bone loss, and even general health complications. A good flossing and brushing routine combined with regular checkups and cleanings at the dentist can prevent gum disease.
The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. You will know gingivitis by the swelling, redness, and bleeding of gums, but don’t worry, because it is often cleared up with regular flossing and brushing at home. The second stage of gum disease is called periodontitis, and it is more severe. If gingivitis is allowed to become periodontitis, the bacterial pockets deepen to the point teeth, gums, and the supporting bone can incur permanent structural damage, and it may be necessary for your Goose Creek dentist to extract one or more teeth.
If any of the following apply to you, you may be at a higher risk for developing gum disease:
- Crooked teeth, degraded fillings, or bridges that don’t fit well
- If you are taking steroids, cancer drugs, calcium channel blockers, oral contraceptives, or epilepsy medications
- If you are pregnant
- If you have diabetes
- If you use any form of tobacco
How do I know if I have gum disease?
First of all, it is important to remember that not all patients who suffer from gum disease will have symptoms. However, if you any of the following apply to you, it is best to see your dentist as soon as possible:
- You have swollen, red, and/or tender gums
- Your gums bleed easily
- Your gums have begun to separate from your teeth
- Your bite feels different
- Your dentures seem to fit differently
- Your permanent teeth have become loose
- You notice pus between your gums and teeth
- You experience chronic halitosis (bad breath) and or bad taste
The main reason gum disease can be so destructive is that it creates pockets between teeth and gums that fill with plaque, and compromise the entire structure of your teeth, gums, and jawbone. This leads to loose teeth that may fall out, and damage the gums and bone.
How do I prevent gum disease?
The best defense against gum disease is a great oral hygiene routine. That means flossing and brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and visiting your dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings. If you take care of yourself, you can keep your smile healthy, beautiful, and gum disease-free for years to come!
Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease
Generally, treatment of periodontal disease is divided into two categories: non-surgical treatment and surgical treatment. Every case is unique, so treatment varies depending on the extent of the gum infection, but there are a number of remedies available:
- Gum (periodontal) trays can be worn at home
- Deep gum cleaning (scaling and root planning)
- Dental implants
- Periodontal surgery and/or laser gum surgery
It is our policy to start with non-surgical therapies that may provide relief before moving on to surgical procedures. That being said, some cases are so severe that surgery is the only option
Early-stage gum disease is often treatable with an effective cleaning method known as “scaling and root planing”. With the help of an ultrasonic cleaning implement, plaque and tartar are eliminated from problem areas that hygienist’s standard tools cannot get to. The most common areas are beneath the gum line and around the root. Once the cleaning is complete, your Goose Creek dentist will smooth out—or plane—the surface of the tooth in order to create better conditions for gum reattachment.
Equally as important as the procedure itself is maintaining good oral hygiene afterward. Flossing and brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, avoiding sugary foods, giving up tobacco, and making sure see Dr. Barganier or Dr. Zuffi twice a year for cleanings and checkups may be all that is necessary to stay gum disease-free for the rest of your life. However, neglecting your oral health with almost certainly lead to more gum disease, and surgery may be necessary for severe cases.
If a scaling and root planning treatment doesn’t do the trick, don’t give up hope! There are plenty of surgical treatments designed for severe cases of periodontal disease. There is almost always a chance to restore your oral health and get back your shining smile. Here are a few types of periodontal surgery:
Pocket Depth Reduction
Pocket depth reduction, or “flap surgery” works by removing the bacteria and damaged tissue within these pockets (from the tooth, the root, and the gums), then sewing them back up, so that the healthy gums can reattach to the teeth.
For severe damage to the support structure of your teeth, regeneration begins just like flap surgery by folding back the flap and removing the problematic tissues. But goes one step further with a bone graft or a tissue-stimulating protein infusion. Both encourage the growth of tissues that repair your jawbone and gums.
Soft-tissue grafts involve borrowing tissue from the roof of your mouth (or elsewhere) and sewing it over the exposed roots to encourage healthy gum growth, and protect teeth from bacteria, plaque, and tartar. Successful grafts return teeth to normal sensitivity and eliminate the embarrassing cosmetic side effects of receding gums.
Is treatment for periodontal disease covered by insurance?
In most cases, dental insurance will at least contribute to the treatment costs associated with periodontal disease. Our first priority is getting you the dental care that you need in the most convenient way possible and we will work directly with your insurance company to get the most out of your coverage.
If you’re ready to get your gums back to health, contact your Goose Creek dentist today at – (843) 779-9445.