Periodontal (gum) disease
Everyone knows that dentists take care of their patients’ teeth, but did you know that they check over the gums as well? This is because one of the most common oral health problem, alongside cavities, is actually something that affects the gums. Gum disease, especially in its milder form, is a common oral health malady that affects a great portion of the population — at least 70 percent of American adults.
Gum disease describes the problems caused by a bacterial infection of the gums, but it actually comes in two levels of severity. Knowing about these two oral health issues as well as how dentists like Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental will treat them can help you prepare in case you or a family member ever develop some form of gum disease.
What is gingivitis? How can it be treated?
Gingivitis is the milder form of gum disease, and is actually more common than you might expect. Gingivitis develops when bacteria colonies around the gumline harden into plaque that sticks to the teeth. This plaque will eventually irritate the gums, causing an inflammation with a variety of symptoms including:
- Red, swollen, painful gums;
- Gums that bleed easily; and,
- Gums that are sensitive to heat changes.
If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms lately, you shouldn’t be too surprised; gingivitis is so common that dentists see patients demonstrating signs and symptoms of gum disease virtually every day. Luckily, it’s a relatively mild form of gum disease and is very easily treated by you and Dr. Gotora.
How can Gum Disease be Treated?
To get rid of gingivitis, a thorough cleaning of the mouth is typically all it takes. Chances are, you already get a cleaning done by an oral hygienist every time you visit the dentist anyhow. The initial step taken to get rid of the problem is that easy. Your oral hygienist will carefully scrape away any plaque buildup and brush around the area to jumpstart the healing process.
The bulk of the treatment, however, lies in your hands. Although gingivitis is relatively mild, it is a still an oral health concern that you should proactively try to avoid. That means regularly and consistently brushing and flossing your teeth. While it may seem tedious at times, brushing and flossing are crucial steps to maintaining good, daily oral hygiene and keeping that harmful bacteria out of your mouth.
What is periodontitis?
Good oral hygiene is especially important because, over time, gingivitis will develop into something far more serious called periodontitis. Whereas gingivitis is characterized by the irritation of the gums by bacteria, periodontitis denotes the situation in which the bacteria have completely invaded the gums. Left untreated, that infection can spread both wider and deeper, affecting not only the other parts of the mouth, but even the underlying tissue and jawbone.
Even worse, periodontitis can be hard to notice on your own. Symptoms of severe gum disease often resemble those of gingivitis or other oral health issues. These can include:
- Red, swollen, painful gums;
- Gums that bleed easily when pressure is applied;
- Gums that are sensitive to extreme changes in heat;
- Gums that appear to be receding or pulling away from the tooth (a good way to tell is if the teeth seem longer);
- Teeth that feel loose in their sockets; and/or,
- Pockets between the teeth and gums.
How can Periodontitis be Treated?
Unlike with gingivitis, periodontitis requires special treatments from a qualified dentist to avoid long-term effects on the mouth. The most common procedure performed by dentists for periodontitis is called “root planing and scaling.” Root planing and scaling is basically an intensified form of a dental cleaning. Dr. Gotora will numb the area before meticulously scraping any every hint of bacteria on the tooth. Every part of the tooth will be covered, from the tip to the roots, and special care will be given to the parts of the tooth covered by the gums. This physical treatment can be accompanied by antibiotics that further limit the spread of the bacteria. Once a person develops periodontitis, however, that person will always have it. There is no cure and treatment focuses on halting the progress of the disease.
As with all medical illnesses, periodontitis is most easily treated when caught early. If you think you may have developed severe gum disease, or if you just want to get your symptoms checked out, you should visit Maryland dentist Dr. Allen Gotora as soon as possible. He can be contacted at our Stellar Dental offices by phone (301) 754-1900 or via the website Stellar Dental — set up your appointment today!