Gum disease is a serious problem that should not be taken lightly. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss, as well as other health problems that can affect your overall well-being. If you suspect that you may have gum disease, it’s important to visit our office right away for diagnosis and treatment. We will be able to diagnose the stage of the disease and recommend the best course of treatment. The treatment chosen will depend on the severity of your condition; in some cases, a simple cleaning and improved oral hygiene habits may be all that’s needed to control gum disease. More advanced cases may require more aggressive intervention.
Below, we will offer more information about gum disease, its symptoms, and our treatment options in Leander, TX. We hope that this will help you better understand this condition and why it’s so important to seek prompt treatment.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and tissues that support your teeth. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If plaque is not removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar. Tartar is much harder to remove, and it can cause the gums to become inflamed; this inflammation is called gingivitis, and it’s the first stage of gum disease.
If gingivitis is left untreated, the disease will advance and begin causing damage to the bone and supporting ligaments that anchor the teeth in the jaw. The disease gains access to the bone through pockets that form between the teeth and gums as a result of inflammation and recession. As the gum tissue continues to pull away from the teeth, the pockets deepen and more bone and ligament are destroyed. This eventually leads to tooth loss.
Stages & Symptoms
Gum disease occurs in three stages: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
- As we mentioned above, gingivitis is the earliest stage of the disease and is characterized by inflammation of the gums. This stage is often asymptomatic, which means that many people do not realize they have it. The only indication may be slight bleeding when brushing or flossing.
- The next stage, periodontitis, is when the disease begins to damage the bone and supporting structures of the teeth. The symptoms at this stage include swollen or bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth.
- The final stage, advanced periodontitis, is when the disease has caused extensive damage to the bone and supporting structures. The teeth may become so loose that they eventually fall out. Patients may also notice pus coming from the gums, as well as persistent bad breath.
The Importance of Gum Health
The health of the gum tissue is essential for the overall health of your teeth and your mouth. The gums provide a seal around the teeth that helps to keep out bacteria, food particles, and other debris. When the gums are healthy, they do an excellent job of protecting the teeth. However, when the gums are damaged, this seal is broken and bacteria are able to enter. Not only does this put your teeth at risk for decay and infection, but it can also lead to other health problems.
Studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and other conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This is thought to be because the bacteria from the gum infection can enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation in other parts of the body. By remaining proactive in your oral hygiene and seeking treatment for gum disease, you can help to secure your overall health and prevent these other conditions.
Treating Gum Disease
The good news is that gum disease is treatable, and the earlier it is caught, the easier it is to treat. The first step is to schedule an appointment with our office. We will measure your gum pockets, thoroughly examine your mouth and teeth, and take x-rays to determine the extent of the damage. Based on our findings, we will develop a personalized treatment plan to suit your needs. In some cases, a deep cleaning may be all that is necessary to remove the tartar and bacteria. More advanced cases may require a referral to a specialist for surgical treatments. We will work with you every step of the way to ensure that your smile is taken care of.
Scaling & Root Planing
One of the most common treatments for gum disease is a deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing. This procedure involves removing the tartar and bacteria from below the gum line and smoothing out the roots of the teeth to help the gums reattach. Scaling and root planing is usually done in two or three appointments, depending on the severity of the disease.
If you have any concerns about the state of your gum health, or if you are experiencing any symptoms of gum disease, please do not hesitate to contact our office. We would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have or schedule an appointment for you to come in for a check-up.