Maintaining healthy gums is essential for strong teeth and a beautiful smile. Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, is an infection in the gums that can cause discomfort, affect the appearance of your gum tissue, and deteriorate your oral health. If left untreated the infection can negatively affect your overall health. In the early stages, periodontal disease is called gingivitis, while more advanced stages may be referred to as periodontitis. After a thorough oral examination, our dentist Jason Keckley, DMD can design a periodontal treatment plan customized to meet your needs and improve your gingival health.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Though the initial symptoms of gum disease may seem minor, the consequences of allowing gum disease to progress to an advanced phase can be severe. Common symptoms of early gum disease include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Gums that bleed easily, particularly after brushing
- Chronic bad breath
During later stages of gum disease, patients may notice the gum line receding or teeth becoming loose. These shifting teeth can affect occlusion and lead to decreased bite strength. Without treatment, gum disease may result in tooth loss, jawbone decay, and infection that can potentially spread to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. Periodontal disease has also been linked to health problems such as diabetes and heart disease.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
Gum disease is typically caused by an accumulation of plaque, tartar, and bacteria along the gumline and within the gingival pockets surrounding the roots of the teeth. The gums that support the teeth are comprised of four different layers. Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that occurs when the outermost layer, called gingival tissue, becomes infected by bacteria. As each subsequent layer of tissue becomes infected, the disease advances, causing increasingly more complicated dental issues and health dangers. Proper daily dental hygiene, along with regular oral exams and dental cleanings, can help prevent gum disease by keeping the teeth free of plaque and tartar. If problems do develop, attending your scheduled exams will give Dr. Keckley the opportunity to provide prompt, effective periodontal treatment.
Periodontal Treatment Options
Scaling is the process of removing plaque, tartar, and harmful bacteria from the surface of the teeth and below the gumline. This procedure can be performed manually, with an ultrasonic tool, or with advanced laser dentistry. Scaling is often combined with root planing to achieve a deep cleaning of the teeth and roots.
Root planing is a procedure that smooths the surfaces of the tooth root to prevent future buildup of plaque and bacteria. The smoothed root also allows the gum tissue to heal and reattach firmly to the tooth.
To help eliminate bacteria, oral antibiotics, topical antibiotics, or a combination of the two may be prescribed by Dr. Keckley.
Flap surgery is used to treat more advanced stages of periodontal disease, such as periodontitis. This procedure exposes more of the tooth root, maximizing the effectiveness of scaling and root planing.
Soft Tissue or Bone Grafts
When periodontal disease has caused the gums to recede or the jawbone to decay, a soft tissue graft or bone graft can be used to restore the integrity of these structures. These procedures may also be performed as a preventative measure against tooth loss.
Results of Periodontal Treatment
Patients who undergo periodontal treatment, receive more frequent cleanings and exams, and keep up with daily hygiene typically see the symptoms of the disease diminish or disappear. The cosmetic appearance of the gums can also improve.
Contact Coronado Classic Dentistry
For more information about periodontal care, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Keckley, please contact our practice today.