Understanding & Overcoming Gum Disease
A strong, beautiful smile needs healthy gums, but infected gum tissue can ruin your grin and your oral health. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a serious oral health issue that affects millions of Americans.
At Gentle Family Dentistry in Bakersfield, CA, we understand the importance of proper gum care and are dedicated to helping our patients overcome this common condition. Under the guidance of experienced Bakersfield, CA dentist Dr. Jonathan Garger, our team offers a range of periodontal therapy options to help patients achieve optimal oral health.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a progressive oral health condition caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar along the gumline. The bacteria in these substances eat away at the gums and expose the roots that support your teeth. If left untreated, this condition can lead to inflammation, gum recession, and eventually, tooth loss.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, up to 70 percent of American adults suffer from some form of gum disease, making it a common concern for many patients. Even worse, gum disease in the early stages is often very subtle. This means you may have the infection and not even notice until it’s progressed past the point where damage is easily reversible.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Recognizing the signs of periodontal disease is the first step in receiving treatment. Some symptoms that you should keep a look-out for include the following:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Pus between gums/teeth
- Sores that don’t improve after two weeks
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
Stages of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis: This is the early stage of gum disease and is characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. At this stage, the condition is still reversible with professional cleanings and a proper oral hygiene regimen.
Initial Periodontitis: If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is characterized by deeper pockets between the gums and teeth. At this stage, the gums begin to pull away from the teeth, leaving the roots susceptible to permanent damage.
Moderate Periodontitis: Moderate periodontitis causes more advanced damage to the ligaments and bones attaching your teeth to your gums. Additionally, the bacteria causing the infection can enter your bloodstream, which can cause the infection to spread to other parts of your body. This may explain the connection between gum disease and heart disease.
Advanced Periodontitis: In the most advanced stages of gum disease, the gums, bones, and connective tissue that support the teeth can become severely damaged, leading to tooth loss.
Health Risks of Periodontal Disease
Tooth Loss: As the gums pull away from the teeth, the roots become exposed, increasing the risk of tooth loss.
Cardiovascular Disease: Research conducted by Harvard Health has shown a link between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular conditions.
Respiratory Issues: Research conducted by the American Thoracic Society has linked periodontal disease to respiratory problems, including pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Diabetes: Individuals with uncontrolled diabetes are more susceptible to developing gum disease, which can make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels.
Possible Periodontal Therapy Options
At our Bakersfield dental office, we offer a range of periodontal therapy options to help our patients overcome gum disease and achieve optimal oral health. Some of the possible periodontal therapy options we provide include the following:
Laser-Assisted Root Planing & Scaling
Laser-assisted root planing and scaling refers to minimally invasive gum therapy procedures that use advanced laser technology. During the scaling phase, the plaque and bacterial build-up are gently removed from the teeth, the gums, and the roots of the teeth.
The root planning phase involves smoothing the roots of the teeth to eliminate pockets where bacteria lay and flourish. This procedure can improve your smile while promoting healthy gums, with the experience being more comfortable than traditional planing and scaling.
Gum grafting is a surgical procedure used to restore lost gum tissue and protect the roots of the teeth. This procedure involves taking tissue from the roof of the mouth and using it to cover exposed roots, preventing further gum recession and tooth loss.
In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed as part of a comprehensive gum disease treatment plan. Antibiotics can help to reduce the bacterial infection that contributes to gum disease, helping to prevent further damage to the gums and supporting healthy oral tissue.
Regular Dental Visits & Good Oral Hygiene Practices
Regular dental exams and good oral hygiene practices are important components of effective periodontal therapy. During dental visits, our team can monitor the progress of gum disease and provide the necessary treatments to keep it under control. Good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly, as well as avoiding tobacco products, can also help to prevent gum disease and promote healthy gums.
Frequently Asked Questions
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, where any damage can potentially be reversed with proper oral hygiene and more regular dental cleanings. Once periodontal disease advances to periodontitis, the damage becomes permanent. Be on the lookout for signs of periodontal disease and attend regular dental exams for early intervention.
Because periodontal disease is caused by the presence of certain bacteria in your mouth, it can never be fully cured outside of the gingivitis stage. However, your symptoms can be managed by practicing good oral hygiene, undergoing periodontal therapy, and taking preventive measures to ensure you don’t suffer from flare-ups.
Antibiotics are a reliable method of periodontal therapy. However, you may not require antibiotics if you’re in the early stages of periodontal disease. Likewise, you may require a combination of antibiotics and other treatments if your symptoms are severe. Your dentist should tell you exactly which therapy options they recommend during your initial consultation.
For patients who already have gum disease, you should likely see your dentist every three to four months instead of every six months. The increased frequency of visits will help ensure that your condition is being properly managed and that any new issues are detected and treated promptly. Depending on the severity of your case, your dentist may want to see you more often.
Contact Our Bakersfield Dental Office & Smile Your Best Again
If you are suffering from gum disease, the team at Gentle Family Dentistry in Bakersfield, CA is here to help. We offer a wide range of periodontal therapy options to help you achieve optimal oral health and overcome any stage of gum disease.
To schedule a consultation with Dr. Garger, contact our Bakersfield dental office by dialing 661-664-9900. You can also fill out the contact form below and one of our friendly team members will get back to you shortly. Gentle Family Dentistry proudly serves patients from Bakersfield and surrounding areas such as Gosford, Alameda, and Lakeview, CA.