Gum disease is a condition that is most commonly linked to poor oral hygiene. It can progress quickly from a simple case of gingivitis which only affects gum tissue, to advanced periodontitis: a serious condition that involves infection that has spread to the bone and has been linked to heart and respiratory disease.
What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Bleeding gums while brushing is the first tell-tale sign that there is a problem with your gums. In later stages, irritation, redness, and swelling of the gums occur before they begin to recede away from the tooth. During advanced gum disease, pockets form around the root of your teeth. Tooth sensitivity and bad breath can also be signs of gum disease.
What are the Causes of Gum Disease?
Anyone can develop gingivitis. Factors that can increase your risk for this condition include, poor oral hygiene, tobacco use of any kind, dry mouth, hormonal changes, some medications, aging, genetics, and certain health conditions, especially those that affect the immune system.
What are the Treatments for Gum Disease?
Root Planing and Scaling (Deep Cleaning) - If you have periodontitis, plaque and tartar have accumulated under the gum line, and deep cleaning must be performed by your dentist or periodontist. This procedure smooths the root surfaces and removes the tarter and bacteria that are affecting gum health.
Antibiotics - Topical antibiotics may be used as an antibiotic mouth rinse or applied as antibiotic gels after deep cleanings.
Oral antibiotics are also likely to be necessary to eliminate infection-causing bacteria.
Flap Surgery (pocket reduction surgery) - A periodontist makes small incisions in your gum to lift back receded gum tissue. This, exposes dental roots for a more effective deep cleaning. In case of bone loss, the underlying bone may need to be augmented before the gum tissue treatment is concluded. This procedure makes cleaning your teeth and gums easier and more effective.
Soft Tissue Grafts - Periodontitis causes your gums to recede. In this treatment, the gums are reinforced by adding soft tissue from your palate or other donor to the affected area. This discourages further gum recession, covers exposed teeth roots and improves the look of your smile.
Bone Grafting - When more extensive amounts of bone have been lost, this procedure is performed to reduce the risk of tooth loss by reinforcing the weakened jaw and promoting new bone growth.
Guided Tissue Regeneration – This technique involves your periodontist placing a piece of biocompatible fabric between your bone and your tooth. This also promotes the regrowth of bone that was destroyed by bacteria. It also prevents soft tissue from invading the healing area, allowing bone to grow back instead.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
Prevention is achieved with proper at-home dental care and regular visits to the dentist. For patients experiencing systemic problems that make gum disease more likely, regular oral hygiene is even more important.
If you suspect that you have gum disease, call Dr. Tanya Melnyck at Smileworks Center, your Chicago gum disease specialist.