While gum disease is not curable, it is manageable. That’s the good news. And you’re not alone if you have gum disease: two in five adults suffer from gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, says the NIH. When you have gum disease, tartar and plaque have built up on the surfaces of your teeth. Then, your gums react to the bacteria in those irritants, resulting in redness, tenderness, swelling and even bleeding when you brush or floss too hard.

Gum disease, considered a serious gum infection, causes damage to the soft tissue surrounding the teeth. If you ignore it, periodontitis will destroy the bone supporting your teeth, which in turn can cause them to loosen or fall out altogether. Yes, periodontitis is common, but you can prevent it from happening in the first place by taking good care of your mouth and teeth. Be sure to brush at least twice a day, floss daily and get regular dental checkups.

A Look at the Symptoms of Gum Disease

Check out the many signs and symptoms of gum disease:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Gums that are dark red, bright red, or dark purple
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Spitting out blood when flossing or brushing
  • Bad breath that doesn’t dissipate
  • Pink toothbrush after brushing
  • Pus between the gums and teeth
  • A change in the alignment of your bite
  • Loose or lost teeth
  • New spaces between teeth that resemble black triangles
  • Receding gums (this happens when the gums start to pull away from the teeth)
  • Painful chewing

Now that you know what to be on the lookout for, here are the treatment options available to you if you are diagnosed with gum disease.

What Are the Most Common Gum Disease Treatments?

Again, there’s currently no cure for gum disease, but that doesn’t mean you can’t manage or treat it. Treatments can be either surgical or non-surgical, but this will depend on the stage of the disease, your oral health, and your overall physical health. Non-surgical treatments include root planing and scaling, laser treatment, and the use of antibiotics.

  • Scaling and root planning: These are deep dental cleanings that reach beneath the gum line to remove tartar and plaque on root surfaces. Your hygienist will thoroughly clean your teeth and smooth away rough spots on the roots. This prevents bacteria and plaque from re-attaching. For your comfort, you will get some local anesthesia.
  • Laser periodontal therapy: A laser removes diseased tissue and bacteria under the gums, and does not involve incisions or sutures.

Surgical treatments include guided tissue regeneration, bone and gum grafting, and pocket reduction surgery.

  • Pocket reduction surgery: Your dentist will create incisions along the gum line to temporarily move the gums away from the teeth. This will allow them to see the roots underneath. Tartar buildup is removed and your root surfaces are then cleaned.
  • Bone grafting: This uses your own bone to rebuild areas damaged by gum disease.
  • Gum grafting: Similarly, this uses your own tissue to treat recession.
  • Guided tissue regeneration: This is when a membrane is placed in the damaged area to keep the tissue from growing where bone should be. This gives your body time to regenerate bone around the tooth.

Who performs these procedures? Typically, periodontists, AKA gum specialists, will perform these non-surgical and surgical procedures. However, in mild cases of gum disease, general dentists can perform them.

The most common type of dental procedure, gum disease treatment is designed to reduce infection in the mouth and rebuild tissues that have been damaged by gum disease.

It stands to reason that the sooner you treat this disease, the better your chance at long-lasting oral health. Gum disease is called gingivitis in its earliest stages, and this can be reversed. But if gum disease is ignored and allowed to progress to more advanced stages, this is known as periodontitis and serious damage can happen to your gums and underlying bone. Gaps called periodontal pockets may form around your teeth, resulting in further infection, loose teeth and tooth loss.

When Should You See a Dentist For Gum Disease?

There shouldn’t be anything to worry about if you have been seeing your dentist twice yearly. This is because your dentist will have been following the state of your gums carefully and taking notes. But if you notice a change in between regular visits, or if you have neglected regular dentist visits, it’s important to make an appointment as soon as you can to have a better shot at reversing damage due to periodontitis.

Book Your Appointment With Piedmont Oaks Dental

The best prevention of gum disease is to brush/floss every day and attend your dental visits twice a year without fail. Feel free to book your appointment with us today at (510) 654-6523. For your convenience, we are located at 1345 Grand Ave. Suite 103 in Piedmont, CA and our hours are Mon – Thu 8am to 5pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.