If you haven’t been to the dentist recently, then you may not know that your gums are at risk. If your gums have a tendency to bleed when you brush or floss, or look red in color and appear inflamed, you might be experiencing the first signs of periodontal disease (gum disease). It’s an incredibly common problem in the United States, with half of all Americans over the age of 30 exhibiting gum disease to some degree. Bacteria and plaque start to build up around the teeth, irritating the gums and causing “pockets” around the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease can have massive health risks, including swelling, bleeding, tooth loss, bone loss, and other health problems, like heart disease and diabetes. Fortunately, periodontal disease can be treated, and often reversed. Like most oral health problems, the earlier it’s treated, the better.
Early Signs of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the first sign that something isn’t quite right with the gums. It occurs when bacteria collects along the gum line, causing the gums to swell. Generally, if your gums are red, swollen, and sensitive, or begin bleeding when you brush and floss, you’re seeing signs of gingivitis. Bad breath and tartar buildup can also be signs of a problem with your gums.
In many cases, gingivitis can be reversed by becoming more diligent about your oral health. Regular (every three months) cleaning at the dentists, accompanied by good brushing and flossing habits can work wonders. However, patients need to be dedicated to this plan and might need more extensive treatment if the gums aren’t cared for properly.
Early Periodontal Disease
Left untreated, gingivitis can advance to early periodontal disease. Pockets in the gums around the teeth contain tartar, plaque, and bacteria, causing gum inflammation, irritation, and decay.
The good news is that the best way to reverse early signs of periodontal disease is with a simple deep cleaning procedure. Root planing and scaling are performed to remove plaque and tartar beneath the gum line, which requires local anesthetic, as the procedure would be too uncomfortable for patients with no numbing.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
Once periodontal disease has advanced, there may be serious problems that emerge, including bone loss and subsequent tooth loss, or substantial decay. Once this stage has been reached, there may be several procedures required to treat the gum disease and replace any lost teeth.
Aside from deep cleanings, which are used for people with mild and moderate gum disease, a periodontal specialist has many treatment options that can help restore the gums. These might include laser gum treatments like LANAP®, AlloDerm® and the Pinhole Surgical Technique™ (for receding gums), as well as dental implants for teeth that have fallen out. It is vital for patients to follow all dentist instructions following periodontal treatment, in order to prevent further issues.
No matter what stage of periodontal disease, the best way to prevent further damage and help the gums to heal is to brush thoroughly twice a day, and floss daily. Regular visits to the dentist are also essential, because it’s impossible for patients to reach all of the plaque and bacteria that could be contributing to periodontal disease at home. Patients who are at greater risk for periodontal disease should be extra diligent about hygiene and checkups. Pregnant women and smokers are more likely than others to develop gum problems.
Find a Specialist
Worried about your gum health? It’s a good idea to find a specialist in periodontal disease who can help you work through gum disease and come out on the other side with a healthier mouth. Drs. Gallardo are experts in the field of periodontal disease, and offer patients in their Miami office the latest in high-tech treatments. For more information, or to schedule an appointment with our experts, call 305-547-8687 today.