Understanding and Arresting Gum Disease

Up to 80 percent of the population unknowingly has some form of gum disease. Characterized by a persistent bacterial infection surrounding one tooth or several teeth, gum disease causes little discomfort and produces few obvious symptoms in the early stages.

When periodontal disease is not treated, it will spread and compromise gums, teeth, and bone; and it can lead to heart disease and strokes, as well as diabetes and pregnancy complications.

Who is at risk?

Any of the following conditions greatly exacerbates the risk of gum disease: smoking, tobacco use, hormone fluctuations, stress, some medications, bruxism, diabetes, poor nutrition, HIV, and any disease that results in immunosuppression, heredity, and poor oral hygiene. Even patients who practice good oral homecare routines can get gum disease. Gums irritated by bacteria can recede from the teeth, and create deep pockets where more bacteria can hide and flourish.

Treating Gum Disease

Early on, when redness, swelling, and bleeding are the only symptoms, we can treat and reverse gum disease non-surgically. Regular check-ups greatly increase your potential for early detection and conservative treatment.

Generally, treatment will include careful, individualized instruction regarding the most effective means of brushing and flossing at home. This strategy is sometimes accompanied by professional scaling or careful scraping of all affected tooth surfaces, gum pocket irrigation, and even local antibiotic placement in areas of significant irritation.

Often, patients experience immediate improvement. If symptoms don’t improve significantly, however, you may require surgical treatment.

Surgical Treatments

A periodontist may perform surgical treatments to clean diseased tissue, reduce pocket depths, and even regenerate lost bone and gum tissue. All of these procedures can improve your chances of keeping your teeth for life.

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