Guarding Your Gums Against Periodontal Disease
Your gums play an integral role in your health. At Kent Family Dental, our team works to help you protect your gums and your teeth. With thorough, gentle care, we strive to help you overcome obstacles to your health like gum disease, and achieve a healthy smile you can enjoy your entire life.
Don’t wait until your gums are in bad shape to do something about it! Contact our office and make your appointment today.
CALL US: (616) 364-9348 REQUEST APPOINTMENT
What Counts as Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an inflammation or infection of the gums. It occurs in three stages: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
Gingivitis: This happens when the gums become inflamed, usually due to plaque and tartar buildup. Inflammation makes the gums more susceptible to infection, leading to the second stage.
Periodontitis: In this second stage, pockets of bacteria form between the gums and tooth roots. As the gums pull away, teeth lose support and become loose. The bacteria may also enter the gums themselves, causing infection and abscesses.
Advanced Periodontitis: At this stage, the gums begin to recede, leaving tooth roots exposed. The underlying bone also shrinks, leading to tooth loss. Infection can also spread to other areas of the body, including the heart and brain.
Who’s At Risk for Gum Disease?
Gum disease can happen to practically anyone, even if you regularly brush and floss. In fact, nearly half of all adults today suffer from some level of gum disease, and many don’t even recognize it.
In the early stages, gum disease symptoms appear minor and can be easier to ignore. It isn’t until the later stages that many people realize they have it.
While gum disease can happen even to healthy individuals, you may be more at risk if you are elderly, if you smoke, take certain medications, or have diabetes. Hormone fluctuations, such as during pregnancy, can also raise your risk of developing gum disease.
Is Gum Disease Serious?
While the early symptoms can seem minor, gum disease can quickly and unexpectedly become much more dangerous. In the later stages, the bacteria can even spread to other areas of the body, causing secondary infections.
The most common effect of gum disease is tooth loss. As the gums and jaw shrink in the later stages, the teeth can no longer withstand the force of speaking and chewing. As it’s common to lose multiple teeth with advanced gum disease, this naturally has a profound effect on a person’s health and confidence.
Gum Disease Symptoms to Watch Out For
Gum disease can be easy to overlook in the early stages, which is why it’s important to pay close attention to the state of your gums. Be sure to let the dentist know if you experience:
- Red and swollen gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Sensitivity to temperature and touch
- Gums pulling away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Teeth loosening or separating
- A change in your bite structure
Treatment for Gum Disease
Our office can provide various levels of treatment for gum disease, depending on how extensive your situation has become. For early stage gingivitis, it may be possible to reverse the disease progression with thorough cleanings and good at-home dental hygiene. In the later stages, however, more targeted treatment may be needed.
Professional Dental Cleanings
During your dental cleaning, we use special tools to eliminate hardened plaque and tartar around and beneath the gum line. This removes the irritant that most often causes gum irritation, allowing them to become healthy once more. A good dental care routine at home will help to limit the amount of plaque that builds up between appointments.
Scaling and Root Planing
If pockets have begun forming beneath the gum line, we perform a scaling and root planing procedure (also called a deep cleaning) to eliminate bacteria and help the gums heal.
After numbing the area, we apply antibiotics to deal with the infection, then remove the tartar from the tooth crown and root. The surface of the root is then smoothed out, which makes it easier for the gums to reattach and support the tooth.
In the later stages, surgical options may be needed to help restore the gum line. Pocket reduction surgery is used to shrink large pockets under the gums, making it harder for bacteria to re-infect the area.
If the gums have receded, they sadly won’t grow back, but a gum graft can be used to restore the gum line and protect the teeth. If more advanced treatment is needed, our office has an excellent referral program in place to ensure that our patients receive top quality care.
Aftercare for Your Gums
Once periodontal disease has advanced, the gums are highly vulnerable to reinfection and will need continuous care and monitoring. We may ask patients with extensive gum disease to visit our office more frequently so that we can make sure their situation doesn’t get worse.
7 Steps for Healthy Gums
It’s especially important for patients recovering from gum disease to practice good oral hygiene at home. While it may seem daunting to think of all the things you have to do, even a few small changes can make a big difference for your oral health.
Here are seven simple tips you can follow to help keep your gums healthy at home.
- Brush twice daily, especially before bed
- Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush for gentle gum care
- Floss at least once a day or after every meal if you can
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash
- Substitute sugary foods for vitamin-rich veggies and fruits
- Avoid smoking or using tobacco products
- Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol to protect against bacteria
We Help You Care for Your Entire Smile
At Kent Family Dental, we believe that every part of your smile deserves first-rate care. Our dental team always strives to help you gain the tools and understanding it takes to enjoy a healthy smile your whole life long.
Give your gums the attention they need. Contact our office and make an appointment today!
CALL US: (616) 364-9348 REQUEST APPOINTMENT