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Periodontal Disease Treatment (Gum Disease)

Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)

Periodontal disease or gum disease affects over 50% of Americans. Gum disease causes bone loss, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss but surprisingly, most people are unaware of their gum disease because it is usually painless. The good news is that if caught in the early stages, gum disease is easy to treat before it causes lasting problems.

Take this quick quiz to find out if you are at risk for gum disease:

  1. Has it been more than 1 year since your last dental cleaning?
  2. Do any of your family members suffer from gum disease?
  3. Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss?
  4. Are your gums ever red or swollen?
  5. Do you have receding gums?
  6. Do you suffer from persistent bad breath?
  7. Are your teeth loose or shifting?

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions then we’d be happy to see you for an evaluation and check on the health of your gums.

 

 

What causes periodontal disease or gum disease?

Plaque bacteria cause gum disease. Every single day plaque builds up on your teeth and plaque is a mixture of food and bacteria. The goal of brushing your teeth is to remove this layer plaque, which is why teeth feel fuzzy before brushing and smooth after brushing. Bacteria around your gums cause an infection just like they do in other places of your body and the earliest stage of infection in your gums is called gingivitis.

If these bacteria sit on your teeth for more than a day or two without being brushed off, they form a hard mineralized substance called tartar. Tartar is almost impossible to completely remove with a toothbrush or floss and is like a fortress that protects the bacteria from being cleaned away, which is why regular cleanings are important to remove the hard deposits. The bacteria inside of tartar are constantly releasing toxins into your gums and bloodstream, causing inflammation, which is why your gums bleed when you have gingivitis or gum disease.

Over the next few weeks, the tartar will continue to grow down below the gums. Once the bacteria are below the gums, the infection begins to spread beyond the gums and into the actual bone that holds your teeth in. When the bone itself is infected, we call it periodontal or gum disease. When you have gum disease, the bone around your teeth is dissolved away by the bacteria and this can go on for years undetected because it is almost always painless. By the time you notice teeth beginning to get loose from gum disease, 50% or more of the bone can be already gone and there is no treatment available in modern dentistry to grow that bone back. The only thing you can do is prevent gum disease and bone loss in the first place.

 

How do I prevent periodontal disease or gum disease?

The two most important factors for preventing periodontal disease or gum disease are good brushing at home and regular cleanings by a dental hygienist. Periodontal disease or gum disease is prevented by keeping your teeth as clean as possible. Consistent daily brushing and flossing habits keep the majority of plaque from growing on your teeth and a thorough cleaning from a skilled dental hygienist will remove any difficult plaque or tartar that built up.

Don’t underestimate good brushing and flossing. Consistency is the key. Plaque begins to build up on your teeth only seconds after you finish brushing, which is why it is important to do so twice a day every day. When the plaque is left undisturbed for a few days, the bacteria create a hard shell to protect themselves called tartar and once tartar has formed, you probably cannot remove it yourself at home. Remove the plaque daily to prevent gum disease.

Removing tartar is a dental hygienist’s specialty. Hard deposits of tartar are what cause gum disease, so it is very important for a dental hygienist to remove any tartar build-up at least twice a year, which is why we schedule your cleanings every six months. If you have a history of suffering from gum disease, we strongly recommend three or four cleanings a year because periodontal disease or gum disease comes back quickly if left unchecked.

 

What causes gum recession?

The most common cause of gum recession is gum disease or periodontal disease. When the bone around teeth dissolves away as a result of gum disease, the gums shrink away with the bone. As more and more bone dissolves and the gums shrink more, progressively more of the tooth root surface becomes exposed and spaces begin to form between the teeth.

The second most common cause of gum recession is trauma to the gum tissue. This trauma can be from many different things including aggressive toothbrushing technique, hard-bristled toothbrushes, clenching or grinding your teeth, tobacco products, etc. The treatment for gum recession depends on the cause so the first step is to identify and stop the reason for the recession.

 

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"I had a great experience with Dr. Endres, his staff and dental hygienist. They are very professional, attentive and friendly. They made me feel well taken care of and welcome. Their office and dental rooms are very nice, clean and comfortable. All around good experience. I would definitely recommend!"   ~ Daisy V

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