Periodontitis, better known as gum disease, is the single most common disease in the country, affecting almost 80% of adults. Many patients aren’t even aware that they are affected by the disease until the issue becomes more advanced. Regular dental screenings, professional cleanings and proper oral hygiene are the best line of offense against this disease that affects so many, but since there are often no symptoms, many patients do not adhere to the basic preventive guidelines and may require subsequent periodontal care.
Gum disease can be caused by poor oral hygiene. Improper brushing and flossing, as well as missed dental cleanings, can lead to bacteria and plaque remaining on the teeth and infecting the gums. Plaque forms on teeth when the bacteria that are normally found in your mouth interact with starches and sugars in food. Proper oral hygiene removes plaque temporarily but it re-forms rather quickly, usually within just 24 hours. Plaque that is not properly removed can harden under your gum line into tartar which is only able to be removed by a professional dental cleaning. The longer that plaque and tartar remain on teeth, the more likely that they will cause pockets to develop between your teeth and gums that fill with plaque, tartar and bacteria.
If periodontitis runs in your family, you may already visit a periodontist regularly. Many family dental practices, such as Gentle Dental in Bayside, have periodontal specialists on staff that can provide effective periodontal care to prevent gum disease and treat the disease if signs have begun to show. There are various treatment options and based on the disease’s advancement, the appropriate restorative procedure for your condition will be determined by your dental professional. Treatments may range from non-surgical therapies that control bacterial growth to oral surgery performed in order to restore supportive tissue.
If you show early signs of gum disease, your dental professional may recommend that you schedule regular dental cleanings more frequently. Or, he may recommend a deep-cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing. This is a non-surgical procedure where plaque and tartar are scraped from the tooth both above and below the gum line while rough spots on the tooth’s surface are made smooth so that there are less small crevices for plaque to hide. Antibiotic treatments may be used in conjunction with additional non-surgical treatments in order to reduce bacteria growth and help stop advancement of the disease.
Surgery is needed when the tissue around the teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with non-surgical options. One treatment option is called pocket reduction surgery, where the gums are lifted so that the tarter can be effectively removed. If there is evident damage to the supporting bone, planing may be done to limit the crevices in which the plaque can hide. The gums are then reshaped and placed so that the tissue fits more snugly around the tooth.
If the jaw bone has become weakened due to the disease, bone grafts may be necessary. This surgical procedure involves using natural bone taken from another part of your body or synthetic bone to replace the bone that has deteriorated. The grafts add support and stability and foster regrowth of natural bone at an accelerated rate. Soft tissue grafts may also be needed if the gums have significantly receded. Similar to bone grafts, this surgical procedure involves using natural tissue, usually taken from the roof of the mouth, to fill in spaces where the gums have deteriorated. Removal of plaque, plus regeneration of bone and gum tissue will restore the health and function of your mouth and keep gum disease at bay.
The key to healthy teeth, gums and bone is doing your best to prevent gum disease, but if you find yourself in the beginning, intermediate or advanced stages of the disease, it is best to seek professional periodontal care.
For more information about periodontal care, contact Gentle Dental in Queens at 718-461-0100.