Gum disease is a growing health epidemic in the United States. A serious and progressive bacterial infection of the gums, gum disease has been linked to a range of complex systemic health conditions. Catching gum disease before it begins to spread and seeking treatment can prevent complex complications and permanent damage.
Routine dental checkups can help control the development and spread of gum disease. We recommend scheduling dental cleanings every six months to keep up with your oral health properly. Dr. Uttma Dham offers thorough periodontal screenings at all oral health exams.
The Progression of Gum Disease
There are multiple stages of gum disease. As the infection progresses, the damage becomes severe and increasingly difficult to reverse. We recommend beginning treatment as soon as possible because the earlier we catch and treat periodontitis, the easier it is treat and cure. Continue reading to learn more about the symptoms and stages of gum disease.
- Gingivitis- Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. Most patients will have gingivitis at some point in their lives as it is extremely common. Patients may notice bleeding of the gums, swelling, or light sensitivity. Gum disease is best treated if caught when still in the gingivitis stage. Most patients are able to control the spread of bacteria at this stage with improved at home oral hygiene and thorough dental cleanings. Gingivitis can be controlled and further damage can be prevented. Dr. Dham can help patients improve their brushing and flossing techniques and make personalized recommendations of additional products for use such as anti-bacterial mouthwash. He also recommends regular examinations and cleanings to prevent the infection from returning.
- Gum Disease- Left untreated, bacteria continue to spread causing damage to the gums. Bacteria begin to create deep pockets in the gums causing the gum line to pull away from the surface of the teeth. Gum recession is common and teeth may begin to loosen or shift. Scaling and root planning is a deep penetrative cleaning procedure commonly used to treat gum disease at this stage. Dr. Dham also offers laser therapy for the treatment of gum disease. High tech lasers actually clean the gums and promote natural healing for a faster recovery.
- Periodontitis- Periodontist is the final stage of gum disease. At this point, the damage has been done to the structure of the teeth, bone, and gums. Patients begin to experience bone loss, facial sagging, and jaw recession. Patients with periodontitis may require gum surgery, bone grafting or dental implants to replace missing teeth. At this point previous damage cannot be reversed, however, treatment is recommended as it can prevent further damage. As part of Westside Dental Center’s comprehensive services, we offer patients in-house periodontal services.
Signs & Symptoms
Gum disease often goes undiagnosed until the gums begin to bleed. Bleeding gums are the most noticeable indication of gum disease, however, by the time the gums are bleeding, the bacteria has already begun to spread. Visiting the dentist twice a year can help Dr. Dham catch gum disease before it begins to spread. If you notice any changes in your oral health be sure to contact your Westside Dental Center dentist.
The signs and symptoms of gum disease include the following:
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen or tender gums
- Sores or patches on gums
- Receding gum line
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Change in fit of oral appliance
- Tooth loss
Many patients ignore the signs of gum disease, allowing bacteria to multiply and spread. Gum disease is directly correlated to a range of oral and systemic health concerns. Treating gum disease can help reduce a patients risk of developing serious medical conditions.
Gum disease increases the risk of the following:
- Gum recession
- Tooth loss
- Bone deterioration
- Heart attack
- Cardiovascular disease
Treatment Options at Westside Dental Center
Treatment for gum disease will depend on the progression of the bacterial infection. Dr. Dham provides a thorough analysis of the teeth, gums, and jaw so that she may address any secondary oral health concerns to fully restore oral health. Treatment plans are tailored to treat underlying oral health concerns and to clean the gums of bacteria so they may begin to heal.
- Scaling & root planing- For some patients, a thorough dental cleaning, and improved at-home oral hygiene routine are enough to control harmful bacteria. Dr. Dham and Dr. Pike will make personalized product recommendations for your oral health.
- Laser Dentistry- Westside Dental Center provides laser therapy for the treatment of moderate gum disease. Laser therapy uses state of the art soft tissue lasers to gently remove harmful bacteria from the deep pockets formed in the gum line. Laser therapy actually promotes the body’s natural healing response. For many patients, laser therapy is an effective alternative to invasive gum surgery. Laser therapy reduces swelling and bleeding and eliminates the need for painful sutures.
We have an In-house Periodontist!
Some patients may require gum surgery, or bone grafting to fully restore their smiles. For patients that require more complex treatment, Dr. Dham works with our in-house Westside Dental Center periodontist Dr. Darren Pike.
Left untreated, gum disease commonly leads to loss of bone structure, gum recession, and tooth loss. Dr. Pike helps patients address advanced gum disease that has begun to cause damage to the foundation of the smile.
- Gum Surgery- Gum surgery may be necessary for patients with advanced gum disease. Gum surgery can reshape a receding gum line for a healthier, more aesthetic looking smile.
- Bone Grafting- For patients who have experienced bone loss due to gum disease or tooth loss, Dr. Pike may recommend a bone graft. Bone grafts help to rebuild the structure of the upper or lower jaw. Once the graft heals, dental implants can usually be placed to support a denture or bridge.
Periodontal Therapy FAQ’s
Do you have further questions about gum disease and periodontal therapy? Continue reading to find answers to questions that patients frequently ask in our office.
What stage of periodontal disease is reversible?
The first sign of gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is bleeding gums after brushing or flossing. Patients’ gums may also appear inflamed or red. At this point, periodontal disease can still be reversed because the infection has not reached the bone or connective tissues that support the teeth in place.
Is periodontitis genetic?
Recent research leads dentists to believe that your genes may determine your susceptibility to periodontal disease. This means that it is possible that you could be born with gum inflammation based on your genetic composition. Rapid bone loss occurs around certain teeth in people with aggressive periodontitis. All of your teeth may be affected in extreme circumstances. It is always good to be aware of your family members’ dental history in case you have an increased risk for periodontal disease or other oral concerns.
Is periodontitis contagious?
The infection that causes periodontal disease can be passed from person to person. In a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, researchers found evidence that periodontitis, or gum disease, can be transmitted between individuals. Periodontitis is more likely to occur due to poor oral hygiene than being transmitted between individuals.
How long after periodontal cleaning can I eat?
For optimal results, avoid consuming anything other than water for 30 minutes following your dental cleaning. If you give your fluoride treatment 30 minutes to set in, it will form a complete seal around your teeth. It is important to be careful when chewing after a periodontal cleaning as mild sensitivity is common.
What can you not do after a periodontal treatment?
After the operation, your saliva may take on a slight pink hue. This is a sign of little bleeding, which may continue for up to 48 hours following the treatment. It’s important to take extra precautions to prevent more bleeding, such as avoiding hot foods and being very careful when rinsing your mouth for the first 24 hours.