What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The three stages of gum disease, from least to most severe, are: gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
What are the signs and symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be painless, so it is important to be aware of any of the following symptoms:
- Gums that easily bleed when brushing or flossing
- Swollen, red or tender gums
- Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in the way your teeth come together
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
- Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
- Sharp or dull pains when chewing foods
- Teeth that are overly sensitive to cold or hot temperatures
What are the different stages of Gum Disease?
If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque turns into tartar, which becomes a rough and retentive surface encouraging further build up plaque. The plaque bacteria can infect your gums and teeth, and eventually, the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth will be impacted. There are three stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis– This is the earliest stage of gum disease. It is the inflammation of the gums, caused by dental plaque buildup at the gum line. You may notice some redness or swelling of the gums, or some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this early stage gum disease can be reversed since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected.
- Periodontitis– At this stage, the supporting bone and fibers that hold the teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. The gums begin to form a pocket below the gum line, which encourages penetration and growth of plaque below the gum line. Professional periodontal therapy and improved personal oral hygiene can usually help prevent further damage to the gum tissue and supporting tissue and bone.
- Advanced Periodontitis– In this more advanced stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone of your teeth are being destroyed, which can cause your teeth to shift or loosen. This can affect your bite and how you eat and communicate. If aggressive periodontal therapy can’t save them, teeth may need to be removed by a dental specialist. Your dentist will provide restorative options if teeth are removed due to periodontal disease.
What are the different treatments for Gum Disease?
There are a variety of treatments for gum disease depending on the stage of the disease, how you may have responded to earlier treatments and your overall health. Treatments can range from nonsurgical treatments that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.
What is Scaling and Root Planning (SRP) or deep cleaning?
This is a deep-cleaning, nonsurgical procedure, done under a local anesthetic, you will be numb for the procedure. Plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planning). Smoothing the rough spots removes bacteria and provides a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling and root planning is done if your dentist determines that you have plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also called tartar) under the gums that needs to be removed.
Is there any medication used to treat Gum disease?
Antibiotic treatments can be used to reduce or temporarily eliminate the bacteria associated with gum disease or suppress the destruction of the tooth’s attachment to the bone. Chlorhexidine, is an antimicrobial used to control plaque and gingivitis in the mouth or in periodontal pockets. The medication is available as a mouth rinse or as a gelatin-filled chip that is placed in pockets after root planning and releases the medication slowly over about 7 days. Other antibiotics, including doxycycline, tetracycline, and minocycline may also be used to treat gum disease, as determined by your dentist. In addition, a nonprescription toothpaste that contains fluoride and an antibiotic to reduce plaque and gingivitis, called triclosan, is often recommended.