Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. The good news is that this condition can often be managed or even reversed. At North Mountain Dentistry, we emphasize the prevention, early detection, treatment, and management of gum disease. Our goal is to ensure our valued patients enjoy long-term healthy smiles.
What Are the Causes of Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a potentially serious inflammation and infection of the structures around the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligament, and the alveolar bone. When plaque is not removed by regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, it can irritate the gums and causes inflammation. While plaque is the leading cause of gum disease, other contributing factors include crooked teeth, family history, smoking, the aging process, and hormonal changes during pregnancy.
What Are the Stages of Gum Disease?
Following are the stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis: This earliest stage of gum disease often causes red and puffy gums and bleeding when you brush and floss. Gingivitis can usually be treated with success because the connective tissue and bone holding the teeth in place are not yet affected.
- Early Periodontitis: The gums start pulling away from the teeth forming spaces called pockets, which trap food debris and bacteria. Here, a slight loss of the bone and tissue that support the teeth may occur.
- Moderate Periodontitis: The supporting bone and tissue sustain irreversible damage. Proper dental treatment and meticulous oral hygiene practices at home can prevent further damage.
- Advanced Periodontitis: In this destructive stage of gum disease, the pockets deepen, chewing may be painful, and the teeth may shift or loosen. If aggressive treatment cannot save the teeth, extraction may be the only viable option.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Your Health?
Gum disease is a serious matter. Not only does it pose a risk to your oral health, but it can also impact your overall health. Research shows a link between gum disease and some serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and rheumatoid arthritis. That's why treating and managing gum disease is so important to us here at North Mountain Dentistry.
How Do We Treat Gum Disease?
The first line of treatment for gum disease is a non-surgical deep cleaning known as "scaling and root planing." Scaling is similar to what happens during your routine dental cleanings. It involves removing plaque and tartar from between your teeth and below your gum line using an instrument called a scaler. Root planing, on the other hand, entails the smoothing out of the rough areas on the surfaces of the tooth roots to provide a clean surface for your gums to heal and reattach.
Scaling and root planing often reverses gingivitis, restoring your gum health. It can also help prevent the progression of the disease. In some advanced cases, however, you may require additional treatments, including medication or surgical intervention.
What Happens After Treating Gum Disease?
After treatment, most patients will require "periodontal maintenance" visits every three months. These involve cleaning your teeth, examining your gum tissue, and evaluating your gum recession and pockets' depth. Our goal is to prevent the condition from progressing to maintain your gum and bone health.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of maintaining a meticulous oral care regimen at home. Make sure to thoroughly brush your teeth at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste, and floss between your teeth every day. We also recommend rinsing with antibacterial mouthwash daily.