Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the main reasons for tooth loss in adults. Gum disease is virtually pain-free and therefore many patients do not know they have the disease. The disease is devastating because the bacterial infection destroys the gum tissue and underlying bone that holds the teeth. When the foundation is destroyed, the teeth become mobile and fall out. At each regular checkup, Dr. Nugent and his hygienists will check for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the pockets between your teeth and gums.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection. The bacteria clump together to form a white sticky substance called plaque. If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and mineralize to form calculus (tartar). One the bacteria have created calculus only your dental office can get it off the teeth. The bacteria excrete toxins that destroy the gum tissue and bone. As more gum tissue is destroyed and pulls away from the teeth, a larger pocket if created. This larger pocket allows more bacteria to accumulate and creates more tissue destruction.
Gingivitis — This is the first stage of gum disease. The gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. Early recognition of the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by better and more frequent daily brushing and flossing. An electric toothbrush is highly recommended.
Periodontal Disease — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontal disease. The gum tissue and bone that support the teeth will become irreversibly damaged. As the teeth lose their foundation, they become loose, fall out, or be removed by a Dr. Nugent.
Factors can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- Lack of proper home dental care
- Lack of professional dental cleanings
- Chewing tobacco
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
Almost always, gum disease is painless. However, here are some warning signs:
- Red, tender, swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Gums that are pulling away from the teeth
- Teeth appear to be getting longer
- Teeth that are loose or separating
- Constant bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Change in the fit of partial dentures
How To Treat Gum Disease:
Scaling and root planing is a procedure that the Hygienist performs to get the bacteria off the teeth and out of the gum tissue. It is also called a “deep cleaning” because the cleaning goes underneath the tissue to remove calculus, tartar and bacteria.
Dental implants are the best way to replace missing teeth that are lost to periodontal disease.
Preventing Gum Disease:
Regular dental checkups in our Pasadena, Texas dental office are vital to your dental health. Yearly periodontal examinations are significant in maintaining your health and the health of your smile. You don’t have to lose teeth to periodontal disease. Everything starts at home with good brushing and flossing. Eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy. Visit us at 3421 Burke Rd STE A, Pasadena, Texas 77504.
Gingivitis, the initial stage of gum disease, is the mildest manifestation of the disease. Patients frequently recognize the symptoms of gingivitis when they floss or brush their teeth, which causes their inflamed, sensitive gums to hemorrhage.
Gum disease can cause permanent injury to the gums, jawbone, and teeth if left untreated. In this stage, tartar and plaque are responsible for the recession of periodontal tissue and bone. This creates deep pockets between the teeth and gums in which microorganisms thrive. Eventually, this bacterium reduces the support structure of the teeth, causing them to loosen and, in severe cases, fall out.
How do you treat periodontal disease?
Root debridement is a specialized procedure that eliminates cementum and surface dentin that is embedded with harmful toxins and tartar. To promote healing, your hygienist will literally smooth the surface of your tooth. By maintaining a uniform root, you can prevent future bacterial colonization.
Scaling the periodontium is typically performed with specialized dental instruments, including ultrasonic scaling instruments. This instrument removes calculus and plaque from the crown and root surfaces. In certain instances, the scaling instrument may include an irrigation procedure that administers an antimicrobial agent below the gums to reduce oral bacteria.
Regular Cleaning versus Deep Cleaning
You may believe that consistent visits to the dentist every six months will prevent periodontal disease, but this is not always true. There is a distinction between routine cleaning and deep cleansing to prevent periodontal disease from spreading.
If you have no history of or susceptibility to gum disease and your periodontal pocket measurements are good then you qualify for a regular cleaning. You should visit your dentist every six months for a routine cleaning. This cleaning removes plaque and tartar buildup on, around, and between your teeth.
When pathogens have spread beyond the gum line, a thorough cleaning becomes necessary. Having bacterial colonies below the gum line causes gum tissue and bone loss. Furthermore, this can lead to the formation of cavities between the teeth and gums. If you or your dentist observe the formation of pockets, this is a sign of periodontal disease, and you should take immediate action to eliminate them. Your hygienist will perform root planing and periodontal scaling during a deep cleaning to polish your teeth below the gum line.