Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease or periodontitis) is a progressive condition that occurs as a result of toxins found in plaque that irritate or inflame the gums. This disease begins as an infection known as gingivitis, and over time can lead to the destruction of your gum tissue and underlying bone. Gum disease also has a number of adverse effects on your overall health, as it has a strong association with chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, pregnancy complications and respiratory disease. Therefore, if you exhibit any of the common symptoms—such as pain or swelling in the gums, unexplained bleeding, elongated teeth, loose teeth, bad breath, or pus—be sure to contact Sunrise Dental Care for a screening.
Thankfully, this serious condition is quite preventable and easily treated if caught early. At Sunrise Dental Care, we offer a number of services to detect, treat, and prevent gum disease to keep you in good oral health.
It is of paramount importance to diagnose gum disease in its earliest stages—before it can do further damage to the gum tissues and jawbone. The diagnosis of gum disease occurs during a periodontal examination, which is standard procedure during your routine dental check-ups.
The process of diagnosing gum disease is relatively straightforward. Your dentist will use a small dental instrument, a periodontal probe, to measure the sulcus (or pockets between the tooth and gums). Then, he or she will determine if the pockets are deeper than the ideal, healthy measurement (three millimeters). If the pockets are deeper than three millimeters, this is indicative of gum disease. Your dentist will also analyze the level of bleeding, inflammation, tooth mobility, etc. When steps 1-3 are complete, he or she will place your gum disease in one of three categories:
- Gingivitis: The first stage of periodontal disease caused by the toxins in plaque that lead to irritation, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums.
- Periodontitis: At this stage, the gums begin to recede from the teeth due to a buildup of plaque and tartar. Deeper gum pockets form and become filled with bacteria and pus. Slight to moderate bone loss may be present, in addition to the standard irritation, inflammation, and bleeding.
- Advanced Periodontitis: During this advanced stage, teeth are loose due to the deterioration of the gums, bone, and periodontal ligament. You may also suffer from tooth loss and moderate to severe bone loss if not treated.
In order to halt the progression of gum disease, we offer surgical and nonsurgical treatments:
- Scaling and Root Planing – A nonsurgical procedure used to treat moderate periodontal disease. This treatment involves a thorough cleaning of the pockets (under the gum line) and clearing debris. Then, we will fill the gum pockets with antibiotics to promote healing.
- Laser Treatment – Used to reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and gums.
- Tissue and Bone Grafting – A procedure that allows your dentist to stimulate tissue growth and rebuild structures when a considerable amount of bone or gum tissue has been destroyed.
- Pocket Elimination Surgery – Also known as “flap surgery,” this procedure is used to reduce the size of your gum pockets.
Once your periodontal treatment has been completed, you will need to schedule routine maintenance cleanings four times a year. This will allow us to ensure your gums remain healthy and any plaque and tartar build-up that could affect your gums is removed promptly. In addition to your periodontal cleaning and evaluation, your appointment will usually include:
- Diagnostic X-Rays (Radiographs): Essential for detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. X-rays also help determine tooth and root positions.
- Examination of Existing Restorations: Check the health and structure of your current fillings, crowns, etc.
- Tooth Decay Screening: Check all tooth surfaces to detect any signs of decay.
- Oral Cancer Screening: Examine the face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Oral Hygiene Recommendations: Review dental hygiene techniques and make recommendations as needed.
- Teeth Polishing: Remove stains and plaque that is not removed during scaling process.
If you think you may have gum disease, it is important to schedule your screening as soon as possible. Call Sunrise Dental Care today to set up your next appointment.