Gum disease is very common, affecting a large percentage of American adults, and even some children. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is progressive, and gets worse the longer it goes untreated. Many people who have been diagnosed with gum disease (or think they may have it) are fearful about the treatment process and wonder if the condition is treated with surgery. Let’s look at the different options for treatment to help you better understand your next steps.
Early Stages: Gingivitis Treatment
One of the reasons people sometimes miss the signs of early gum disease (known as gingivitis) is because the symptoms don’t seem that serious. Red, swollen gums, bleeding during brushing and flossing, and bad breath are all symptoms of gingivitis, but because the problem is so common, it doesn’t raise a red flag for most people. The good news? If gingivitis hasn’t progressed to further stages of gum disease, all you need to do is focus on better brushing and flossing habits and visit your dentist regularly for cleanings. If treated early, this is enough to reverse the signs of gingivitis.
Periodontitis: Deep Cleaning
When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, at-home care is no longer enough. Bad breath may worsen, since more bacteria is present, no matter how well you care for your teeth. You may even notice your teeth start to losen. At this stage, patients may need deep cleanings, which involve root planing. Root planing is a cleaning procedure that actually cleans beneath the gums, removing bacteria from the pockets that form between the tooth and gum as periodontal disease progresses. These pockets can be healed with root planing, water irrigation, and antibiotics, unless the gum disease is severe. If it is, laser treatments and surgery may be the best options.
Moderate & Advanced Periodontal Disease
In order to treat advanced periodontal disease, either laser therapy or surgery may be required. Periodontal surgery involves folding the gums back from the teeth so that the roots of the teeth are visible, and can be treated. This can be done in-office, using only local anesthetic. Laser therapy has also become a wonderful option for patients, since it can remove bacteria and diseased tissue while initiating the body’s natural healing processes. Treatments for receding gums are more gentle than ever too. Traditional gum grafting (a grueling process) is almost never needed anymore, thanks to other options for treating receding gums like the Pinhole Technique, and Alloderm, a non-invasive procedure that can restore gum tissue.
Not All Gum Disease Requires Surgery
As you can see, gum disease sometimes does require surgery to repair the damage to the gums, but not always. It often takes a long time for periodontal disease to reach that stage, and many cases of gum disease can be treated with much more conservative procedures before resorting to surgery. Even for late-stage periodontal disease, options like laser therapy can mean that surgery is no longer required. Of course, each case is unique, and the dentist’s goal is to help patients prevent tooth loss, receding gums, and other problems caused by periodontal disease. Every patient with periodontal disease should make sure to visit their periodontist on a regular basis for cleanings and deep cleanings in order to promote good hygiene and prevent reoccurrence.
Talk to an Expert
If you have periodontal disease and aren’t sure what type of treatment you’ll need, your first step should be to talk to an expert. Many dentists are highly knowledgeable about gum disease, but for most, treating periodontal issues is not their area of expertise. Drs. Gallardo are accomplished periodontal disease experts, offering patients customized advice and the latest treatments for gum disease. To schedule an appointment at our Miami office, call 305-547-8805 today.