Periodontal (Gum) Treatment
At Schultz Center for Dentistry, we care for your complete oral wellness. While many patients focus on the health and appearance of their teeth, the gums are equally important for maintaining a beautiful smile. Gum disease is a serious condition that, when left untreated, can ultimately lead to tooth loss. Our dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Schultz, and his team take time with each patient to teach the causes of gum disease (also called periodontal disease) and how you can prevent this condition from impacting your oral health.
What is periodontal (gum) disease?
Periodontal disease, more commonly referred to as gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. Characteristics of this disease include constant inflammation or infection of the mouth’s soft tissues. Periodontal disease is unfortunately a common condition, and it affects about 75% of adults in our country.
What causes periodontal disease?
The primary cause of periodontal disease is recognized to be the buildup of plaque (bacteria) along the gum line. If this plaque is not removed from the teeth with diligent daily oral hygiene, it will eventually harden and turn into tartar. The toxins created by plaque not only irritate the gums but can actually cause the gum fibers to deteriorate, ultimately leading to loose teeth or tooth loss. When bacteria is allowed to remain along the edge of the gums, periodontal pockets can also form, permitting even more bacteria to accumulate and cause severe damage. In its advanced stages, periodontal disease can even damage the bone that holds the teeth in their proper place, compromising the integrity of your smile.
What else can contribute to the development of periodontal disease?
In addition to poor oral hygiene, genetics and lifestyle choices can lead to the development of periodontal disease. Unhealthy eating habits as well as stress can negatively impact the body’s ability to protect itself against infection. The gum irritation caused by smoking can also contribute to the acquisition of this disease. If you have a medical condition or take a medication that affects the immune system, you may be at greater risk. For patients with uncontrolled diabetes, the treatment of periodontal disease can be more challenging.
What are common symptoms of periodontal disease?
Maintaining excellent daily oral hygiene and receiving professional teeth cleanings at least twice a year are the primary ways you can protect your teeth and gums from periodontal disease. Symptoms of periodontal disease may include:
- Red or tender gums
- Swollen or inflamed gums
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- A change in the position of the teeth
- Chronic bad breath
- A sudden change in the fit of partial or full dentures
Though there are many possible warning signs for periodontal disease, some patients do not exhibit any symptoms at all. Dr. Schultz recommends his patients schedule regular dental cleanings and oral exams to help ensure the gums remain healthy and strong.
What does periodontal treatment involve?
When discovered in its earliest stages, periodontal disease can be much easier to treat. Scaling and root planing are common periodontal treatments that can remove the harmful plaque and tartar from the teeth. The gum line can then be cleaned to eliminate bacteria buildup. For more advanced stages of periodontal disease, oral surgery may be necessary to re-contour damaged bone and remove severe, toughened plaque. Oftentimes, the gum tissue will be repositioned after oral surgery for periodontal disease.
I am concerned that my teeth will look too long after periodontal disease surgery. Should I worry?
Though gum disease can cause the gums to recede, new advances in technology no longer require the traditional technique of removing gum tissue. With these modern techniques, Dr. Schultz can often treat cases of periodontal disease without removing a significant amount of gum tissue, allowing your teeth to maintain their natural appearance.
How do you prevent periodontal disease?
Dr. Schultz believes that regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing should be the first line of defense against periodontal disease. When combined with routine professional cleanings and oral exams, you can greatly minimize your risk of bacteria buildup. If you do develop periodontal disease, these routine check-ups can give Dr. Schultz the opportunity to treat the condition promptly while significantly reducing potential damage.
What role does a general dentist play in the treatment of gum disease?
If you believe you may have periodontal disease, visiting a dentist who is experienced in the latest gum treatments can be vital for achieving the best results. Dr. Schultz and his team have a history of success in treating gum disease in its earliest stages as well as more advanced cases. For extremely advanced cases, Dr. Schultz can also refer you to a specialist. Please do not wait to make an appointment with an experienced dentist if you think you may have periodontal disease. Delaying treatment can lead to more costly and time consuming procedures—and can even lead to tooth loss.
For more information about periodontal disease treatment, or to schedule a consultation, please contact our office today.