What Is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, occurs when the soft tissue surrounding your teeth becomes infected. Millions of Americans are affected by gum disease, but many people are unaware of the significant health risks the condition can cause when not properly treated. Gum irritation may be just the beginning.
As gum disease worsens, your risk for more serious conditions such as pneumonia, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease also increases. With the comprehensive range of gum disease treatments offered by our Scottsdale dentists, you can improve the wellness and appearance of your gums while minimizing the potential for related health conditions to develop.
- Gum Disease Causes
- Gum Disease Symptoms
- Stages of Periodontal Disease
- Reversing Gum Disease
- Gum Disease Risks
- Gum Disease Treatment
What Causes Gum Disease?
While the development of gum disease can not always be pinned down to a specific cause, there are a variety of factors that can increase your risk for developing this common condition. Poor dental hygiene and a lack of proper routine dental care—which can allow harmful plaque and bacteria to build up around the gum line—are often thought to be leading causes of gum disease. However, additional risk factors may include:
- Poor nutrition
- Tobacco use
- Hormonal changes
- Clenching or grinding the teeth
- Illnesses that negatively affect the immune system
- Certain prescription medications
By practicing good oral hygiene, visiting your dentist for routine oral exams and teeth cleanings, and minimizing these additional risk factors, you can help decrease your chance of developing gum disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
When harmful bacteria is allowed to penetrate the gum line, your risk for developing periodontal disease greatly increases. Gingivitis is frequently the first manifestation of gum disease, and it is often characterized by inflamed, red, and/or sore gums as well as bad breath. Patients with gingivitis may also notice that their gums begin to bleed easily when aggravated by brushing or flossing. As gum disease begins to further advance (a stage known as periodontitis), patients may experience more serious symptoms such as loose teeth, spaces forming between the teeth, pus at the gum line, or even tooth loss.
What Are the Different Stages of Periodontal Disease?
The earlier your gum disease is diagnosed, the more likely you will be able to control the condition and prevent long-term damage. In general, gum disease is typically categorized into three stages:
- Gingivitis: As plaque builds up along the gumline, inflammation may occur indicating gingivitis. This early stage of gum disease tends to develop before periodontal structures that support the teeth are affected.
- Periodontitis: Once gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the bone and connective tissues around the teeth have started to undergo permanent damage. Periodontal pockets below the gums may form, creating a space for food and plaque to get caught.
- Advanced Periodontitis: As the most severe stage of gum disease, advanced periodontitis presents when the structures around the teeth are destroyed, causing teeth to loosen or shift. If not managed, teeth may eventually need to be extracted.
Can Gum Disease Be Reversed?
Gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease, can often be reversed with good oral hygiene and professional cleanings. This is because at this stage, the gums are inflamed, but irreversible damage to the periodontal structures has not yet occurred. Unfortunately, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis both cause damage to the bone and connective fibers, which cannot be reversed. However, the more severe stages of gum disease can be controlled with prompt treatment, limiting further damage from occurring.
What Are the Risks of Gum Disease?
Our oral health is connected to our overall body health, which is why untreated gum disease can increase the risk of developing a number of systemic conditions. As harmful bacteria present with gum disease releases toxins in the mouth, this inflammation can spread to other areas of the body. Common health conditions that have been linked to gum disease include:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
To prevent your oral health from negatively impacting your total body health, it is essential that you seek a qualified dental professional to start your gum disease treatments as soon as possible.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Although there is no cure for gum disease, there are many techniques and strategies that can prevent the condition from worsening and alleviate the associated symptoms. Advancements in dental technology have also made the treatment of periodontal disease faster, easier, and more comfortable for patients. Depending upon your unique condition, Dr. Todd Mabry and Dr. Colleen Murphy may choose one (or a combination of) the following techniques to optimize the outcome of your treatment.
DEEP SCALING / ROOT PLANING
This non-surgical treatment targets plaque and calculus buildup below the gum line. Deep scaling cleans the crowns and roots of the teeth, removing plaque and tartar buildup while also disinfecting the pockets that form around the teeth as a result of gum disease. Root planing smooths the roots of the teeth by eliminating unwanted contaminants from the dentin. After these two processes are complete, the gum tissue can then cleanly re-attach to the teeth to significantly reduce the size of the periodontal pockets and create a healthier gum line.
Laser therapy is an advanced periodontal technique designed to treat soft tissues of the gums without invasive surgery, bleeding, and/or pain. The two laser modalities used at our practice include:
- The Diode Laser: The Diode laser is an effective tool for removing harmful bacteria from deep pockets surrounding the teeth. This innovative laser can also help accelerate the healing process, greatly reduce inflammation, and minimize bleeding. Our practice has six Diode lasers, allowing our dentists to select the most appropriate option(s) for each patient’s unique needs.
- The CO2 Laser: The CO2 laser is used to help remove harmful bacteria and treat decay below the gumline. This state-of-the-art laser can be an excellent addition to the Diode laser in more serious cases of periodontal disease.
CONTACT NORTH SCOTTSDALE DENTAL STUDIO
Please contact North Scottsdale Dental Studio for more information about periodontal disease, or to schedule a consultation. With our advanced gum disease treatments, Dr. Mabry and Dr. Murphy can help you maintain healthy gums and teeth for a beautiful, radiant smile.