Many people have gum disease, but don’t realize it. That’s because early symptoms are subtle and the disease can be painless, making it difficult for the average person to recognize.
Regular dental checkups are your best defense against gum disease, which is destructive and can lead to tooth loss. Your dentist recognizes the early signs of gum disease, which is when damage can be reversed with standard general dentistry techniques, such as professional cleanings.
Gum disease is common. Dr. Talva Grundstrom Joost, a family dentist serving Jefferson City and surrounding counties, regularly recommends gum disease treatments to help her patients avoid the more costly procedures they will face if the infection goes unchecked.
Gum disease is a progressive bacterial infection of the gums. It starts as gingivitis, an inflammation in the gums, and turns into periodontitis if the infection is not controlled. Advanced gum disease can cause gum recession followed by damage to tooth roots and bone holding teeth in place. Eventually, your teeth can loosen and fall out.
If you suffer from gum disease, either gingivitis or periodontitis, treatment will depend on how far the disease has progressed.
Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, is infection and inflammation of the gums. At this point, there is no gum or bone loss and the disease can usually be reversed with meticulous dental hygiene. The key is daily thorough brushing and flossing along with regular checkups and professional cleanings by a dentist, who can remove the bacteria-producing plaque and tartar that leads to gum inflammation. The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more harmful.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis, in which the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that harbor bacteria. These pockets are an open door for bacteria, allowing the infection to slip below the gum line and put bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth at risk.
Scaling and root planing is a deep cleaning of your teeth. Scaling removes bacteria-producing plaque both above and below the gum line. Root planing smooths rough spots that collect bacteria.
You may be prescribed medications to control the infection and aid in healing. This can include antibiotics and prescription mouthwashes. The dentist may also apply antibiotics in the pockets that form as gums pull away from teeth.
If deep pockets remain after scaling and planing, surgery may be required to remove tartar and plaque on hard-to-reach tooth roots. The procedure also allows the dentist to tighten the gums around the tooth, removing the pockets that collect bacteria. The surgery involves lifting back the gums to clean and smooth tooth roots well below the gum line. The gums are then sutured back in place to create a snug fit around the tooth.
If you have lost bone or gum tissue, you may need grafts to restore these important tooth supports. Bone grafts to areas where you have lost bone will help promote new bone growth. Grafts of gum tissue can cover exposed tooth roots, which are prone to damage when exposed.
If you suspect you have gum disease, it is important that you get it treated. Untreated gum infections can cause gum recession and damage to tooth roots and the bones that hold your teeth in place. Please contact us for an appointment.