Recognizing and Treating Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, sometimes known as gum disease, affects the teeth and gums and can potentially damage the roots of your teeth. This ultimately can cause tooth loss if left untreated. The American Dental Association warns that studies have linked periodontal disease to heart disease.

While symptoms may be mistaken for other dental issues, it is important to recognize and treat the signs of periodontal disease. Farmington Hills patients can depend on our dental team at Scott J. Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry to confirm any indications of gum disease.

Causes and Symptoms
The main cause of gum disease is plaque, which builds on teeth during everyday wear and activity. Over time, plaque can infect otherwise healthy gums.

The warning signs of this include swelling, chronic halitosis, and bleeding after you brush your teeth and floss. If these symptoms persist over long periods of time, ask a dentist to determine if you have periodontal disease.

Our dentists at Scott J. Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry specialize in the recognition, prevention, and treatment of this disease.

If gum disease is not treated quickly, it can cause tooth decay and eventual loss. Abscesses can form on the teeth by the roots, leading to potential bone loss and further infections. These can lead infected gums to separate from the teeth.

Risk Factors

The American Academy of Periodontology lists several factors that can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease:

  • Genetics – Some studies indicate that up to 30% of the U.S. population has a genetic propensity toward developing gum disease.
  • Crooked Teeth – People with crooked or misaligned teeth have a more difficult time brushing and flossing, increasing his or her risk.
  • Smoking – Smokers often develop receding gums. People who smoke also are at greater risk due to the chemical compounds in tobacco.
  • Nutrition – Poor nutrition weakens the immune system, allowing periodontal disease to thrive.
  • Hormones – Hormone fluctuations during puberty, menopause, or pregnancy has been shown to cause inflammation of the gums.
  • Medications – Medications may cause receding gums or dry mouth. This may expose the tooth root, making the area affected susceptible to infection.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease. There are two types of gingivitis: plaque-induced and non-plaque induced.

Poor oral hygiene and malnutrition cause plaque-induced gingivitis.

Bacteria and plaque accumulate along the gum lines. Without regular brushings and professional cleanings, this plaque can turn to tarter. Tartar, a very hard substance, will irritate the gums causing inflammation.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

You should make an appointment with your dentist should you experience any of these symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Receding gums
  • Gums that bleed after brushing or flossing
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Bright red or purple-colored gums

How to Prevent Periodontal Disease: Early Treatment Options

Practicing good oral health can sometimes prevent periodontitis.

Proper dental care such as flossing and using mouthwash can significantly lower your risk for contracting the disease. More severe cases require special treatment known as root planing and scaling. Done under local anesthetic, an ultrasonic scaler will remove the plaque and bacteria from underneath the patient’s gums. Afterward, the teeth are planed to a smooth surface, enabling them to reattach to the gums.

While this procedure is normally effective, plaque may occasionally grow after it has been completed. Consistent dental care is required to prevent any risk of infection after the procedure. Patients will receive further care instructions from their dentist on how to prevent recurring periodontal disease.

Advanced Treatment Options

In addition to root planing and scaling, there are two other options your dentist may recommend to treat advanced periodontitis disease.

Flap surgery – Flap surgery involves lifting the gums back so that all the tartar can be removed. The surgery may also be performed to reduce the size of the pocket to help inhibit tartar buildup.

The dentist will lift the gums up, remove the tartar, then suture the gums back in place. This is done as close to the tooth as possible, forming a tight seal and can cause the tooth to appear slightly more elongated after surgery.

Bone and tissue grafts – In severe cases where bone or gum tissue has been destroyed, the dentist may want to perform a bone or tissue graft.

The surgeon will use natural or synthetic bone to replace missing bone or to help promote bone growth.

Grafting soft tissue involves taking a small amount of tissue from another part of the mouth, or sometimes using synthetic material, to cover any exposed roots.

A procedure called guided tissue regeneration (GTR) uses barrier membranes to promote regeneration of tissue where periodontitis disease has caused its loss.

The procedure involves inserting a mesh-like material between the bone and the gum. This stops the gum from filling the space and encourages the bone and connective tissue to develop.

The dentist may also use special proteins and other growth medicines to speed up the process.

The success of the procedure depends on the extent of damage to the gums and roots. The patient must also maintain good oral hygiene practices, including having his or her teeth cleaned professionally twice a year.

Final Word

At Scott J. Owens Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, we offer more information about how to treat periodontal disease.

Treating this disease is a simple process, but recognizing and preventing it is essential to your dental health. With proper, routine dental care, the disease can be avoided, giving you a healthier mouth and preventing any further complications.

After graduating from the journalism school of the University of Maryland, Theresa began to gain interest in writing topics regarding the medical field after observing specific health patterns in her family history. Theresa recently quit her full-time job and left her home in D.C. to move to Medellin, Colombia to pursue remote work. Today, she professionally writes about dentistry, VA hospitals, alternative medicine, and other health-related matters.