Non-Surgical Gum Care
Studies indicate that upwards of 75% of adults have some level of gum disease. Silent, like diabetes or high blood pressure, gum disease gradually erodes the bone that holds and supports your teeth in the jawbone. While it is possible to have no symptoms at all, there can be warning signs:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
Periodontal diseases are classified according to the severity of the disease. The two major stages are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis. The degree and severity of the disease can be affected by many factors unrelated to just how well you brush. Some of these:
- Tobacco smoking or chewing
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Some types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer drugs, calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Fillings that have become defective
- Pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
Stages of Disease
What happens when you see us for gum care? A diagnosis is confirmed or ruled out by using a panoramic or full series of radiographs and comparing them with periodontal pocket measurements. During your gum exam, we may use a tiny ruler to actually measure the depth of the pockets and, at the same time, note any abnormalities like bleeding, pus, gum recession or loose teeth.
The goal of treatment is to eliminate the bacteria causing the disease. We have a comprehensive program in place comprised of a full range of non-surgical options as the first line of treatment. Treatment is usually a combination of:
- Scaling and root-planing – This is a detailed cleaning which removes tartar under the gumline and smooths the roots to keep them clean. Usually we will use local anesthetic to numb the areas that will be cleaned and it will take several visits to do a thorough job.
- Antibiotics – We have many options available for agents that kill bacteria and assist your body in healing your gums and bone. From tiny local applications that are placed directly in the pocket where the infection hides to rinses and systemic options. Antibiotics have been shown to enhance the results of scaling.
- Homecare – There is no cure for periodontal disease. Our goal is to stabilize it and prevent additional bone loss. If you rebuild the engine in your car, you will need to do regular maintenance in order to keep it running. In the same way, you will need to work hard at home to keep your teeth clean and come in for professional cleanings several times a year to keep gum disease from coming back.
If your disease is beyond the scope of nonsurgical care alone, we will most likely refer you to a gum-specialist called a periodontist.