Healthy gums are the foundation of strong teeth, and disease can present a danger to both the immediate and long-lasting health of your smile. Even though oral health awareness is on the rise, many adults throughout the U.S. still experience some form of gum infection in their lifetime, with a fair amount not realizing they have the condition!
At Modern Dentistry of Memphis, our services for periodontal disease treatment and maintenance can help you enjoy a renewed smile with gums that remain healthy for many years.
Our team is passionate about protecting your oral health and overall well-being. That is why our dentists combine the latest in treatment techniques with our continued compassion for helping others to provide you with the highest quality of care. Contact our office today to schedule your periodontal examination!
CALL US: 901-761-3726 REQUEST APPOINTMENT
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Our mouths are full of bacteria, both helpful and harmful.
The harmful bacteria constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth. However, with daily oral hygiene practices such as brushing, flossing, and chewing sugar-free gum, the plaque buildup is usually kept under control.
When diligent oral hygiene is lacking, plaque continues to grow, and when it’s not removed, it forms into “tartar” that routine brushing won’t be able to remove. Only a professional cleaning done by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove the tartar properly.
How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
Symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Constant bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Receding gums or longer appearing teeth
Are There Different Stage of Gum Disease?
The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis when gums are often red and swollen due to the toxins found in bacterial plaque buildup. During this stage, gums are sensitive and are likely to bleed during routine brushing and flossing.
If gingivitis is not addressed, the condition progresses into periodontitis, the more advanced form of oral infection that further inflames the gums, causing them to pull away from teeth.
This gum tissue recession forms periodontal “pockets,” which can lead to more bacteria accessing the soft tissues and tooth roots underneath the gumline. These periodontal pockets also provide toxins an entry point to other areas throughout the body via the bloodstream.
As the body fights to eliminate the infection, the immune system sends responses that break down the connective tissues that hold teeth in place. This often results in teeth becoming loose, which may require extraction.
Understanding the Mouth-Body Connection
Our circulatory system carries vital nutrients to other areas throughout the body through the bloodstream. Our teeth, gums, and jaws also receive these nutrients through thousands of arteries that branch out beneath our teeth.
The harmful bacteria found in gum disease also have access to these arteries when they creep beneath the gums, which is how they gain access to the rest of the body.
Below are a few examples of how this oral infection can impact the whole body:
Heart health: Gum disease has been shown to be connected to heart disease by causing inflammation. It is possible that this oral infection may worsen pre-existing heart conditions and increase the risk of stroke.
Diabetes: Gum disease can make blood sugar more difficult to manage, increasing the likelihood of gum disease among those with diabetes. Even people without diabetes may find their blood sugar regulation is off because of this oral infection causing inflammation.
Expectant mothers: Any infection needs to be monitored, especially during pregnancy. Gum disease that enters the bloodstream can affect the fetus, too. An immune response can occur that may increase the risk of premature births and low birth weight in newborns.
What Causes Gum Disease in The First Place?
The most important thing you can do to keep your gums healthy is to see the dentist regularly. Dr. Reddick and Dr. MacGaw will examine your gums carefully during routine visits, but, if you notice any changes in your gums, we strongly advise you to make an appointment sooner.
Believe it or not, poor oral hygiene is not always the reason gum disease develops. Many factors contribute, such as:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Diabetes, HIV, or other diseases
- Certain Cancer treatments
- Certain medications
- Hormone changes during pregnancy or menopause
How is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
Periodontal disease is commonly diagnosed with radiographic (x-rays) and visual examinations.
During this appointment, our dentists use an instrument called a probe to measure the gum pockets. Think of the probe like a small metal ruler using millimeter increments.
Our dentists review the gums around your teeth and take a series of measurements, usually 1 through 6. Measurements of greater than 3 millimeters (called a "pocket") often indicate gum disease is present.
If your gums bleed during these measurements, this also indicates the presence of gum disease. Visual signs of gum disease may include red, puffy, swollen or receding gums during the visual inspection. Large plaque and calculus deposits (tartar) are also frequently noticeable in individuals with gum disease, particularly those who have not seen a dentist in years.
Can Gum Disease be Cured?
The best "cure" is to prevent gum disease from forming in the first place. The more chronic the problem, the harder it is to treat. Although in the early stage of gingivitis, it can be reversed.
Gum disease generally is not curable, but, it is both treatable and more importantly, preventable. The best way to prevent gum disease is to see our team for an exam and cleaning every six months.
At home, brush twice daily and floss between your teeth once daily. If you do not like dental floss or find it challenging to use, other products have been shown to work as well and may be easier to handle. These include floss holders and Water Flossers.
How are Periodontal Issues Treated?
At Modern Dentistry of Memphis, we treat many forms of gum disease. To successfully address the condition, treatment must be tailored to the level of your needs. After a close evaluation of your teeth and gum tissues, your gum disease therapy may include surgical or nonsurgical solutions.
Non-Surgical Periodontal Treatments
Scaling and root planing: While regular dental cleanings are for the visible portion of teeth, scaling and root planing is a deeper cleaning that removes plaque and tartar, also known as calculus, from underneath the gumline, within the periodontal pockets.
The root surfaces are then smoothed to promote proper healing. When calculus has extended underneath the gumline, a scaling and root planing procedure is an effective way to remove this plaque buildup from the area.
Antibiotics: In some cases, scaling and root planing may be accompanied by antibiotics for additional preventive measures. Chances of reversing gum disease can be increased when antibiotics are paired with daily cleaning at home.
Surgical Procedures for Renewed Gum Health
Pocket Irrigation procedures: Our dentists access the affected gum tissue so that disease-causing bacteria and calculus build-up can be removed properly.
In some cases, the damaged bone and root surfaces may require smoothing and recontouring to allow the gum tissue to re-attach to the healthy surface. This procedure also repositions the gum tissue, promoting easier cleaning.
Continual Prevention with Periodontal Maintenance
Periodontal disease maintenance involves more frequent dental cleanings to keep teeth and gums free of infection.
Sometimes, patients who’ve had gum disease or periodontitis are asked to return for more frequent dental examinations and cleanings to help reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease in the future.
Through continued maintenance, our team hopes to help you maintain healthy gum tissue. By working with our dental health professionals, you can better achieve and maintain lasting oral health.
How Often Do I Need to Visit the Dentist After Gum Disease?
After treating your gum disease, we may recommend that you come in anywhere from every three months to once a month to ensure you remain in optimal oral health. While regular dental cleanings and exams are always required to help remove tartar and detect early signs of gum disease, lasting oral health starts by taking proper care of your smile at home.
Here are seven essential measures you can do to prevent gum disease and keep you smiling for a lifetime:
- Brush twice daily, especially before bed.
- Choose a soft-bristled toothbrush for gentle brushing and less gum irritation.
- Floss once a day, or after every meal.
- Rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Substitute sugary foods for vitamin-rich veggies and nutritional fruits.
- Avoid smoking or using tobacco products.
- Chew sugar-free gum for saliva gland stimulation.
Protect Your Smile’s Health for the Future - Contact Us Today!
No matter your cause for developing gum disease, we are equipped with the skills and experience to help you. Our office takes the time to educate you about what techniques, lifestyle choices, and tools can be used to help you keep a healthy smile for a lifetime. Contact Modern Dentistry of Memphis to schedule your comprehensive exam and thorough dental cleaning today!
CALL US: 901-761-3726 REQUEST APPOINTMENT