Gum disease is a common but serious dental issue that can affect individuals of all ages. It is a type of gum infection that gradually damages the soft tissue and bone that supports your teeth. The good news is that gum disease can be prevented, treated, and even reversed if it is in its early stages. At Gallardo Periodontics and Implant Dentistry in Miami, FL, we offer a variety of effective gum disease treatments to help patients stop the damage from progressing and reduce the risk of serious concerns such as pericoronitis, receding gums, and permanent problems with the tissues around their teeth.
- Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Types of Gum Disease
- Causes of Gum Disease
- Diagnosing Gum Disease
- Preventing Gum Disease
- The Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease
- Candidates for Gum Disease Treatment
- Non-Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
- Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
- Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease Treatment
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Healthy gums are pale pink, firm, and fit snugly, like a cuff around teeth. When gum disease develops, however, the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth. As the condition worsens, the tissue and bone that support the teeth sustain damage. In time, teeth may need to be removed or fall out on their own.
Patients that visit our office with gum disease are usually coping with symptoms such as swollen, puffy, bright red, and/or purple gums. Their gums may also seem tender whenever they are touched, bleed easily, pull away from their teeth, and/or make their teeth appear longer than usual. In addition, patients with gum disease may struggle with bad breath, loose teeth, spaces between their teeth, and pus between their teeth and gums.
Types of Gum Disease
There are a number of different types of gum disease. The most common type is chronic and typically affects adults. Chronic gum disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and occurs when there is a slow deterioration of the gums that worsens over time. Left untreated, this condition may lead to serious gum or bone damage.
Aggressive gum disease is not as common and typically begins in childhood or early adulthood. If untreated, it may cause the fast progression of bone and tooth loss. When the gum tissue, tooth ligaments, and bone die, necrotizing gum disease and a severe infection arises. This condition usually only occurs in individuals who have an immune system disorder.
Causes of Gum Disease
The mouth contains a variety of different types of bacteria. In most cases, gum disease occurs because of improper oral hygiene, which allows bacteria to remain in the teeth’s pockets at or below the gum line. The bacteria, mucus, and other particles in the mouth come together to form plaque, which often gets trapped in these pockets. Although plaque is the most common cause of gum disease, there are a number of other factors that may contribute to this condition including illnesses that interfere with the immune system, hormonal changes, certain medications that affect oral health, poor habits such as smoking, a family history of dental diseases, and poor oral hygiene, such as failing to brush and floss every day.
Diagnosing Gum Disease
Gum disease is usually discovered during a routine checkup by a dental professional. A dental professional may examine a patient’s gums, search for signs of inflammation, use a tiny ruler called a probe to measure pockets around the teeth, and take an x-ray to look for bone loss. In the event that gum disease is discovered, the dental professional will typically refer a patient to a periodontist like Dr. Gallardo.
Preventing Gum Disease
Now that we know how strong the link between gum disease and heart disease is, the good news is that prevention is very straightforward. People who practice good oral hygiene can typically look forward to strong healthy teeth and a strong, healthy heart. Preventing gum disease involves regular brushing and flossing, following your dentist’s directions for proper technique. In addition to everyday maintenance, regular checkups and cleanings are needed to remove plaque and tartar and ensure the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) have not begun. It is also important to be aware of the signs of gingivitis, such as bleeding gums, when brushing and flossing, bad breath, and tender, swollen gums. Catching these symptoms early and seeing a dentist promptly can help reduce risks to the heart and prevent the disease from becoming more advanced.
The Link Between Oral Health and Heart Disease
While it may seem strange that heart health and gum disease are linked, think about it: when the bacteria in the mouth influence bleeding gums, that bacteria then can enter the bloodstream, which circulates throughout the body. Once the bacteria have entered the system, they can attach to fatty deposits in the heart’s blood vessels. This can cause plaque formation along the arteries while increasing the chance for blood clots (which can cause heart attacks and strokes). Bacteria from gum disease can lead to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cause bacterial endocarditis, which involves the lining of the heart and valves becoming enlarged. The risks of gum disease in heart health aren’t insignificant either; research has shown that severe gum disease can almost double the risk of heart disease. Good oral health is a key part of heart health.
Candidates for Gum Disease Treatment
Patients who have found out that they are living with gum disease should seek treatment immediately, this is especially true during pregnancy. The sooner they treat their condition, the more likely is that the treatment will be successful. In some cases, gum disease can actually be reversed. Dr. Gallardo will thoroughly check a patient’s gums to confirm the gum disease diagnosis and design an individualized treatment plan that is right for the state and severity of the patient’s individual condition.
Non-Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
There are a number of gum disease treatments that do not require surgery. Dr. Gallardo usually recommends non-surgical treatments if the gum disease has been caught early and there is a good chance it can be reversed.
Professional cleaning is designed to remove destructive plaque and tartar from the mouth. Dr. Gallardo may suggest more than two professional dental cleanings a year so that bacteria levels can be kept down and the long-term effects of gum disease can be reduced.
Another key non-surgical treatment we may suggest is called scaling and root planing. Scaling and planing involves scraping away plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line (scaling) and smoothing out the rough areas on the roots of the teeth (planing). This is an option when the gum disease has spread from the gums to the jawbone and the roots of the teeth.
Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease
In some cases, non-surgical treatments will not be effective and surgery will become necessary. One surgical procedure that may be a viable treatment option is called flap surgery. During flap surgery, the gums are lifted back and the tartar is removed. Then, the gums are placed in a way that allows the tissue to fit snugly around the teeth. The purpose of flap surgery is to decrease the space between the gums and tooth and reduce the areas where harmful bacteria has the potential to grow.
The most common surgical treatment for gum disease is referred to as bone grafting. It involves using bone fragments to replace any bone that has been destroyed by gum disease. Bone grafting is designed to aid in natural bone regrowth so that the stability of the teeth can be restored.
At Gallardo Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, we often recommend the AlloDerm bone grafting procedure. AlloDerm uses a soft tissue gum grafting material that is a great alternative to using a patient’s own gum tissue because it does not require the need for an extra surgery. It allows donated human tissue to act like the patient’s own tissue and is widely used in dentistry and a variety of other industries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease Treatment
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can prevent gum disease. Be sure to brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristle toothbrush, floss between each tooth daily, and visit the dentist on a regular basis for exams and professional cleanings.
The initial stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and it occurs when the gums become red, swollen, and susceptible to bleeding. In the later stages of periodontal disease, bone loss and the loosening or loss of teeth may arise.
Gums typically bleed when oral hygiene is not maintained properly and bacteria in the mouth forms plaque that then hardens. The bacteria may lead to gum inflammation and result in bleeding gums.
Receding gums occur when the gums pull back from the surface of the tooth and expose the roots. This is a symptom of gum disease and a common consequence of poor oral health.
X-rays can help us accurately diagnose gum disease symptoms that may not be visible to the naked eye. If your dentist has taken x-rays, we encourage you to send them to our office.
Dr. Gallardo performs non-surgical or minimally invasive gum disease treatments whenever possible. This allows for less pain and discomfort and more successful results.
Left untreated, gum disease can take a serious toll on your life. It may lead to tender, bleeding, or receding gums, teeth sensitivity, loose teeth, and tooth loss. Gum disease has also been associated with several serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease, and certain types of cancer. Therefore, if you have been diagnosed with gum disease, seeking treatment as soon as possible is imperative.
Dr. Gallardo of Gallardo Periodontics and Implant Dentistry is a highly trained and experienced periodontist who takes great pride in helping patients treat or reverse gum disease through a number of cutting-edge treatments that allow for minimal pain and discomfort. If you visit our modern Miami-area facility, you can expect to receive the individualized and compassionate care you deserve from one of the top periodontists in the area.
Schedule a Gum Disease Treatment Consultation Today
If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, it is in your best interest to contact Gallardo Periodontics and Implant Dentistry to schedule a consultation. Dr. Gallardo and the rest of our team look forward to providing you with the care and treatments you need to enjoy better oral health. Call us at 305-547-8687 to schedule a private consultation at our Miami office today.