What is Gum Disease?
Your gums serve as a seal around your teeth, protecting the sensitive root areas. Gum disease occurs when there is an infection in the tissues surrounding the teeth.
Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque. If left untreated, gum disease can have serious negative impacts on your oral and overall health—gum disease has even been linked to an increased chance of issues such as heart disease and diabetes.
At Valley Dental we typically refer patients to a local specialist to treat gum disease of all stages and prevent further complications.
Gum Therapy and Grafting
One common gum disease treatment is gum grafting, which is surgical intervention to help prevent long-term health impacts from periodontitis. In this procedure, a dentist transplants a bit of gum from the roof of your mouth to an area where your gums have receded.
The tissue is attached with a special glue that adheres and protects the new graft so healing can take place. The specialized glue also protects the roof of your mouth.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a progressive condition. This means that leaving it untreated can allow it to progress to later stages and have more serious consequences on your oral and overall health. Stages of gum disease include:
Bacteria that haven't been removed from gums and teeth can grow out of control and produce toxins that irritate the gums.
When calculus, also known as plaque, develops along the gum line, it forms a rough surface that promotes further plaque build-up and causes irritation, swelling, bleeding gums, and bad breath.
This plaque build-up can cause pockets of infection to develop between the teeth and gums. During this initial stage of periodontal disease, no bone damage occurs and the condition is more easily treatable with non-surgical methods.
Regular hygiene cleanings and exams are critical for maintaining the health of your gums. They also give your dentist the chance to check for developing gum disease.
As gum disease progresses, the plaque (sometimes calculus) continues to grow under the gum line. This can lead to a breakdown in the ligaments, causing the gum to detach and pull away from the teeth.
As the pockets deepen, they fill with more bacteria and the bone's supportive ligaments start to become damaged, resulting in loose teeth.
- Advanced Periodontitis
The advanced stage of periodontitis leads to deep pockets that sometimes fill with pus. There may be swelling around the root and more bone loss that can result in loose or lost teeth.
Tooth extraction may be a necessary remedy to preserve your general oral health.
The Gum Disease Treatment Process
Our dental team is able to diagnose gum disease in our patients. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms below it is important that you see a dental professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
- Symptoms of Gum Disease
Sometimes, you won't notice any symptoms of gum disease. But some patients may experience symptoms including:
- Receding gums
- Bleeding in your gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Red or purple gums
- Sore or swollen gums
To diagnose gum disease, your dentist will measure the depth of pockets surrounding each tooth. Pockets deeper than 3 mm are considered hazardous and will usually need treatment.
Attending regular dental exams gives your dentist the opportunity to detect gum disease early and take preventive measures.
To treat gum disease, your dentist will remove bacteria and substances that get caught in pockets around your teeth.
The process of eliminating bacteria typically requires multiple visits to your dentist. Once bacteria have been removed, your dentist must clean and maintain these pockets on a regular basis.
If your periodontitis is advanced it may be recommended that you undergo gum grafting surgery.
- Long-Term Care
Generally, once you have had gum or periodontal disease, you will always need to pay extra attention to your oral health.
In addition to practicing diligent hygiene at home, you'll need to see your dentist for regular cleanings to prevent the bone in your mouth and jaw from receding.
After the initial issue is treated, you will typically attend periodontal maintenance appointments every 3 to 4 months.