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Being diagnosed with periodontal (gum) disease is very common among adults in the U.S. The effects of periodontal disease can range from something simple, like gum inflammation, to more serious issues that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth.
The good news is that you have options. How you gum disease progresses or heals depends a great deal on how well you care for your teeth and gums every day, through regular brushing and flossing habits.
What causes gum disease?
The human mouth is full of bacteria. The combination of bacteria, mucus and other partciles constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth. Regular brushing and flossing help get rid of plaque. Plaque that is not removed can form a “tartar” that brushing can’t clean. Only professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar.
The longer plaque and tartar remain on teeth without treatment, the more harmful they become. The bacteria eventually causes inflammation of the gums called “gingivitis”. With gingivitis, gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, and can usually be reversed with daily flossing and brushing, and regular teeth cleaning by a dentist or dental or hygienist. This level of gum disease does not usually include bone loss or tissue holding teeth in place.
Gingivitis that is not treated in a timely manner can progress to periodontitis, which means inflammation around the tooth. At this stage of gum disease, gums pull away from the teeth and create spaces called pockets, than can become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows beneath the gum line. The body’s natural response to infection as well as bacterial toxins start to break down the connective tissue and bone that holds the teeth in place. If not treated at this stage, bones, gums, and supportive tissue are destroyed. The teeth may become loose and have to be removed.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Common symptoms of gum disease include:
Any of these symptoms may indicate a more serious problem, which should be checked out by a dentist.
The main goal of any dental treatment is to control the infection. The length and type of treatment depends on the extent of the gum disease. All types of treatment require that the patient keep up daily dental care at home. The dentist may suggest changing certain lifestyle behaviors as a way to improve the outcome of the treatment.
Dentists, periodontists or dental hygienists remove plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planning. Scaling is the process where tartar is scraped off the teeth from above and below the gum line. Root planing removes rough spots on the tooth root where germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease. Some cases may warrant using a laser to remove plaque and tartar. This procedure often results in less bleeding, swelling and discomfort compared to traditional deep cleaning methods.
Medications may be used with treatments that include scaling and root planing, but cannot always take the place of surgery. The dentist or periodontist may suggest surgical treatments depending on how far the disease has progressed.
Source: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
Homer Glen Dentist, Dr. Mary Ellen Hoye is conveniently located between Orland Park and Lockport at 15927 South Bell Road. Dr. Hoye of Homer Glen is an Invisalign Premiere Dentist. Cosmetic Dentist, Dr. Hoye will customize a plan for your specific needs. It is always our pleasure to meet you and exceed your expectations as your dentist. Please call us at 708-301-3444.
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