Prevention and Treatment of Periodontal (Gum) Disease
The health of the gums plays an important role in dental health and overall health. If the gums become infected or diseased, the consequences can affect the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Gum disease also raises the risk of serious systemic health problems, like heart disease and diabetes.
At Dentistry of Sugar Hill, our dentists are committed to helping prevent gum disease and, when it does occur, treating it quickly to prevent its progression. We personalize periodontal care to the unique needs and goals of the individual patient.
Understanding Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria in plaque and tartar left on the teeth. In the earliest and mildest form of gum disease, gingivitis, the bacteria causes the gums to become red and inflamed. They may bleed easily.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. At this stage, the gum tissue starts to pull away from the teeth, forming spaces or pockets that can harbor more bacteria. The pockets may become infected and the plaque can spread beneath the gum line. The body responds to these toxins by breaking down the bone and soft tissue holding the teeth in place. In the most aggressive cases, the bones, gums and tissue supporting the teeth are destroyed and the teeth loosen and fall out.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease can cause any of the following symptoms:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Persistent bad breath
- Receding gums
- Teeth that appear longer
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
If you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms, you are encouraged to schedule an exam with our dental team. During the visit, the dentist will inquire about your current health, lifestyle and medical history; the objective is to try to identify any medical conditions (like diabetes or heart disease) or risk factors (like tobacco use) that could contribute to gum disease. The dentist will examine your gums, looking for signs of inflammation. If your gums have started to pull away from your teeth and form pockets, those pockets will be measured. Periodontal pockets larger than 3 millimeters are likely problematic. X-rays may be taken to look for bone loss.
Managing and Treating Periodontal Disease
Our dentists determine the appropriate course of treatment based on the nature and extent of the disease. The goal is to control the infection and minimize its ramifications. Any treatment should be combined with good at-home oral hygiene, including daily brushing and flossing. Certain behaviors, like smoking, may need to be tweaked to improve the outcomes of treatment. Antibiotic medication may be prescribed to help control the infection.
Scaling and root planing are non-surgical methods of removing plaque deposits from the teeth and gumline to reduce swelling and prevent further damage. Scaling involves scraping tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing smooths out rough spots of the tooth root, which are common places for bacteria to accumulate.
Surgery may be needed if the inflammation persists. For example, flap surgery can help remove tartar deposits in deep gum pockets. If gum disease has permanently damaged the gum tissue or jawbone, regenerative surgery can be performed with bone or tissue grafts as needed.
Talk to Us about Periodontal Care
If you have red, swollen or bleeding gums, schedule an exam with the dental team at Dentistry of Sugar Hill. We may find signs of periodontal disease that need to be treated.