Periodontal Disease Treatment
If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, you may be at risk for developing periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Periodontal disease is an infection in your gums, around your tooth roots, or the underlying ligament or bone in your mouth. The earliest stage of periodontal disease is called “gingivitis,” in which the gums are infected but the deeper layers of ligaments and bones remain unharmed.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is most often caused by tartar or plaque buildup, which leads to gingivitis and, if left untreated, can spread infection throughout your mouth. Gum disease, apart from causing severe damage to your mouth and jaw, can also affect your overall health if not treated immediately. Health-related complications can include:
- Heart disease and stroke. Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease.
- Premature birth. Pregnant women with gum disease are more likely to deliver prematurely, and the infant is more likely to be underweight at birth.
- Diabetes control. People with diabetes who suffer from gum disease may have additional difficulty controlling their blood sugar.
- Respiratory disease. Your lungs are connected to your mouth, and gum disease-related bacteria can infect your lungs and cause pneumonia.
Treatment options for gum disease will vary depending on the severity of your infection.
- Deep Cleaning: if you suffer from mild gum disease or gingivitis, your dentist may perform a deep cleaning, which includes scraping tartar from the surface of your teeth as well as from underneath your gums along your tooth root. Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic medication in addition to the deep cleaning in order to control bacteria and keep any wounds clean.
- Surgical Options: if you have severely infected gums or have undergone a deep cleaning that was unsuccessful in treating your gum disease, your dentist may opt for surgical procedures to treat your condition.
- “Flap” or “pocket” surgery: if inflammation or infection remains even after deep cleaning or antibiotics, your dentist may need to open up pockets along your tooth roots in order to extract remaining tartar. Afterward, he or she will reattach the gums to your teeth and allow them to heal naturally.
- Tissue graft surgery: if your periodontal disease has caused loss of bone or gum tissue, your dentist may provide a bone or tissue graft, in which a piece of gum is either constructed synthetically or taken from another part of your mouth and grafted over the wounded area. In these cases, your gum will often grow stronger than it was before your surgery.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
If you want to avoid the painful and often severe complications of advanced gum disease, dentists recommend following these routine preventative measures.
- Quit smoking – or don’t smoke at all.
- Take careful care of your braces or bridges, as any additional structures in the mouth can make it more difficult to remove plaque buildup.
- Reduce stress, which weakens your body’s immune system and can increase your risk of bacteria buildup.
- Maintain your overall nutrition: keep your gums, and entire body, healthy by eating a balanced diet and keeping your immune system, which fights bacteria all over your body, strong.
- Talk to your dentist before taking any new medications: often, medicines cause side effects such as dry mouth or a suppressed immune system, which can make it easier for bacteria to grow in your mouth.