Don’t Let Periodontitis Destroy Your Smile
What exactly is periodontitis?
Periodontal disease is a serious stage of gum disease that impacts not only the gums, but also the supporting bone structure that holds your teeth into place. The good news is the sooner it is detected and treated, the better the outcome is. If you think you may have periodontitis, talk to your doctor so they can perform an evaluation and begin your treatment process.
What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
Although they are similar, these two conditions have some significant differences. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is caused by bacteria building up underneath the gumline, hardening into plaque, and causing irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue. This can cause your gums to become soft and red in color. They may also bleed when flossed or probed. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into periodontitis, which is not reversible and more serious.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Since pain isn’t a common sign of the earlier stages of gum disease, it’s very important to be aware and on the lookout for the other signs and symptoms. The very beginning signs of gum disease include bleeding when brushing and flossing and discoloration of the gums. Your gums may appear darker in color and soft.
As gum disease progresses into periodontitis, other symptoms may begin to show up, including painful chewing, persistent bad breath, receding gums, changes in the way your bite comes together, new gaps between your teeth, loose and unstable teeth, and gum swelling. Left untreated, periodontitis leads to tooth loss and an increased risk of systemic health problems.
Get treatment for periodontitis right away.
Even if your gum disease has already progressed into the periodontitis stage, immediate treatment can reduce long-term damage and side effects from the infection. If you experience any of the symptoms of periodontitis, it’s very important to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away. Your dentist will perform an evaluation of your gums and measure the pocket depth. A pocket depth of 1–3 mm is normal, while a pocket depth of 4 mm or more is considered unhealthy.
After making an examination and diagnosing which stage of gum disease you’re experiencing, you and your dentist will decide on the next treatment option. Usually, nonsurgical treatment methods are tried first.
Scaling and Planing
You’ve likely heard this referred to as “deep cleaning.” Scaling and planing is a common and extremely helpful method of curbing gum disease.
Because disease-causing bacteria and tartar that build up underneath the gumline are the culprit of this infection, the goal becomes to clean those areas out. This is called scaling and is done either with a handheld tool, laser, or ultrasonic scaler.
After the area is nicely cleaned out, the next step, planing, is performed. Since bacteria likes to stick to the rough surfaces of the roots of your teeth, these surfaces will be fully smoothed out and cleansed. This encourages the gums to reattach to the roots, aiding in effective healing.
Just like antibiotics are prescribed for other bacterial infections, they can be useful to treat gum disease, too. Usually topical antibiotics are prescribed for periodontitis. During a deep cleaning, the dentist may apply antibiotics into the pockets. Occasionally, oral antibiotics are needed as well. Follow your doctor’s instructions on taking antibiotics. If you are given oral antibiotics, it’s very important to take them as long as you are directed to.
Sometimes, though, these treatments aren’t enough and surgery is necessary to completely remove the infection.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
During this procedure, tiny incisions are made in your gums, which expose the roots and allow for better scaling and planing. If you’ve experienced bone loss, the doctor may also recontour the bone, then suture your gum tissue back into place.
After the surgery, you’ll likely experience some pain and swelling for the first couple days. You can get some relief by applying a cold compress and taking over-the-counter pain medicine as advised by your dentist.
Since periodontitis causes gum recession, a soft tissue graft may be necessary to replace some of the gum tissue. In this case, the tissue will be removed from your palate or a donor source and attached to the site.
If you’ve lost supporting bone, you may need a bone graft. This procedure involves taking donor bone and grafting it onto the site to help promote new bone growth.
Whether or not your case of gum disease requires surgery or a deep cleaning, maintenance is one of the most important parts of staying on top of your gum health. Periodontitis cannot be completely reversed, but it can be controlled. It’s very important for you to visit your dentist every three to four months for maintenance.
Treatment for Gum Disease at Dental Care Associates of Buffalo
Book an appointment with us today to get proper treatment for periodontitis. Treating gum disease not only helps your oral and physical health, but it can dramatically enhance the aesthetics of your smile. Soon, you will be smiling your brightest smile yet.