Gum disease, (also called periodontal disease) is caused by the buildup of dental plaque around the teeth. The plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that causes inflammation and damages the gum tissue. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease where the gums may be red and swollen and may bleed easily.
Gingivitis can be treated and usually eliminated by a professional dental cleaning and improved homecare with daily brushing and flossing. Periodontitis is where the condition has advanced under the gums where the supporting structure (bone and gums) that hold the teeth in place is irreversibly damaged. Periodontitis can lead to infection and tooth loss.
At our cleaning and exam appointments are patients are screened for gum disease by measuring the depths of the gum pockets surrounding the teeth, by evaluating bleeding and inflammation and by bone loss that may be visible on the patients x-rays.
Some conditions can lead to increased risk of gum disease:
- Smoking or tobacco use
- Poor oral hygiene, or poor fitting restorations
- Genetic predisposition
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Gums that bleed easily
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus coming out of the gums
Treating Gum Disease
The treatment recommended for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each case.
Non-Surgical periodontal therapy may include scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) with laser bacterial reduction or the placement of localized antibiotics. Most patients treated with non surgical periodontal therapy are placed on a home care regimen and a more frequent periodontal maintenance schedule of every 3-4 months.
Some cases require surgical therapy which is performed by a periodontist or gum specialist.