What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a progressive disease. It starts out as gingivitis. Your gums may become red and swollen and might bleed when you brush and floss. These symptoms almost always go unnoticed, written off as another issue, such as brushing too hard. It progresses quickly, resulting in receding gums, loose teeth and, eventually, tooth loss. Gum disease needs to be treated. Surgery is often an option; however, this option is rather invasive. It is also not always necessary. At Queen Anne Family Dental, we want to provide you with all of your available options, including gum disease therapy.
What Happens When You Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease begins silently. It’s easy to mistake the symptoms as the result of brushing or flossing too vigorously. Ignoring these symptoms only leads to gum disease progression. When your gums are healthy, they sit snugly against the base of your teeth, effectively sealing your roots and protecting them. When your gums become inflamed, your gums pull away from your teeth, leaving space for bacteria, and food particles to fall below. Once under the gums, it becomes impossible to remove the bacteria with regular brushing and flossing. Bacteria thrive under your gums and begin attacking the roots of your teeth as well as your jawbone. Once inside your jawbone, the infection can spread into your bloodstream, and travel throughout your body. Once in the jawbone, the infection can cause issues with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
Gum Disease Treatment
When gum disease has progressed beyond gingivitis, professional intervention is required. Plaque, the sticky substance that forms on your teeth and holds bacteria, has hardened into tartar, and bacteria have traveled too far below the gum line. Neither can be removed with a regular toothbrush or flossing. For your gums to begin to heal, these issues must be addressed.
Gum disease therapy is a deep cleaning treatment commonly referred to as scaling and root planing. Scaling involves the use of a specialized tool used to scrape hardened tartar, plaque and bacteria off of the visible surfaces of your teeth as well as below the gum line. Antimicrobial agents are administered under the gums to kill off any lingering bacteria. While this procedure doesn’t require the use of anesthesia, we can administer a local anesthetic to help manage any pain, especially if your gums are tender.
Root planing is a procedure that involves the smoothing of the surfaces of your teeth’s roots. This removes bacteria, build up and any toxins that may be present. A smooth root surface also makes it more difficult for new bacteria to adhere to. With your teeth thoroughly cleaned, your gums can begin to heal. We will schedule a follow-up appointment approximately 6 to 8 weeks later, to check on your progress. During your regular exam, we will also keep an eye out for oral cancer and will schedule a screening if we see any signs of cancer.
If scaling and root planing alone is not enough to foster healing, we will then begin periodontal maintenance. Periodontal maintenance is a series of regularly scheduled visits. We continue to deep clean your teeth and monitor your progress. This may involve the use of digital X-rays to check the condition of your jawbone and other structures hidden under the gum line. While usually performed once every three months, the frequency of your visits will depend upon your specific situation.
If you notice signs of gum disease, don’t ignore them or wait until your next scheduled visit. Call Queen Anne Family Dental right away to schedule a consultation.