Twice-daily brushings and regular flossing are excellent for maintenance between office visits, but a healthy mouth and beautiful smile require routine general and preventative care to stay that way. Our practice offers professional dental health maintenance care that includes necessary periodic oral examinations and cleanings. Our preventative hygiene services include fluoride, professional breath control, and periodontal (gum disease) treatments designed to help you maintain your smile’s health and beauty keeping your teeth and gums strong and disease-free for a lifetime. Contact our office today to schedule a cleaning or consultation.
Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
People of all ages and backgrounds can be affected by periodontal disease; however, it is preventable. By establishing a regular routine of dental checkups and cleanings, you can be assured of early diagnosis and prevention most of the time. Healthy gums are firm, pink, and do not bleed, unlike diseased gums which bleed easily.
There are three stages of periodontal disease.
Gingivitis (jin-ja-VY-tis) This is the mildest form of periodontal disease. With gingivitis, the gums become red, swollen, and tend to bleed easily. There is usually very little or no discomfort. This stage is reversible with cleanings at the dental office and good oral hygiene care at home.
Chronic Periodontitis (KRON-ic per-ee-o-don-TIE-tis) This is the most common form of periodontal disease in adults. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression. With chronic periodontitis, the gums around the teeth become swollen and red, and the patient loses gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. If left untreated, the gums pull back creating "pockets" around the teeth allowing more plaque and bacteria to collect below the gum line. Tooth roots are eventually exposed and become at risk for cavities and sensitivity to cold and touch. This stage can result in loss of teeth if not treated.
Aggressive Periodontitis This stage of periodontal disease is highly destructive and occurs in people who are otherwise healthy. Some common symptoms include rapid loss of gum and bone tissue, bleeding, and halitosis (bad breath). Aggressive periodontitis can be in the entire mouth or a localized area. This stage can also result in loss of teeth if not treated.
After a thorough periodontal screening and examination we may choose more aggressive therapies aimed at eliminating or reducing the amounts of bacterial poisons and plaque accumulating below the gum line (general cleaning and polishing is done above the gum line). This involves scaling (cleaning the soft tissue around the tooth) and root-planing (cleaning the surface of the tooth root). When you have gum disease the tissue is chronically irritated by bacteria deep below the visible gum line. The bacteria needs to be removed to promote proper healing, and may need site specific administration of antibiotics, Arestin and Atridox, to kill the bacteria. These procedures are done simultaneously, may require local anesthetic, and are skillfully done by ourwell-trained hygienist, Karen. The services of a specialist, a periodontist, may be required should surgical intervention be required.
If periodontal disease goes untreated, the pockets formed between the teeth and gums (when the gum tissue pulled away) will usually become infected. With progression of this infection, bone loss can occur, and the teeth can become loose and may fall out or require extraction.
Gum disease is often painless, especially in the beginning. As the disease progresses and the pockets get deeper, there is a greater risk of experiencing pain. Periodontal disease weakens your overall health and you become more prone to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, pancreatic cancer, compromised immune system, and can even affect the health of an unborn child.
There are many warning signs for gum disease. If you notice any of the following symptoms you should call and schedule an appointment with us.
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth, making them appear longer than before
- Bad breath that does not go away
- Pus anywhere around your gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that seem to be spreading apart
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the way a partial denture fits
Periodontal disease is not only preventable, but is reversible in its earliest stage. Healthy oral hygiene habits at home combined with regular dental checkups are the key to prevention. Bright Life Dentistry’s hygienist, Karen, will work with you to assure that you have access to the care that best suits your needs, and she will help you hone your home care skills to maintain an optimum level of oral health.