Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease or periodontitis) begins with bacteria settling between your teeth and under your gums. The symptoms are often described as “silent” because the early indicators of gum diseases are mild enough to ignore until there has been severe damage to the patient’s teeth and gums. However, gum disease is very preventable, especially with good brushing and flossing, and if it’s caught and treated early, progression of the disease can be slowed or even halted.
The best defense against gum disease is seeing your dentist for routine exams every year and dental cleanings every six months. With multiple locations, flexible scheduling, and affordable payment options, Bright Now! Dental makes it easy for you to stay ahead of gum disease. Not only can we help you with preventative measures, but we can also help with a range of treatment options to keep your symptoms from getting worse and improve your overall oral health.
As with any disease, some populations are predisposed to developing gum disease, with factors like lifestyle, genetics, and age increasing their risk.
Smoking or chewing tobacco products has a very high correlation to the onset of gum disease. Using tobacco products creates a unique environment for bacteria to thrive in the mouth–by reducing saliva production, which helps keep the mouth moist and clean, tobacco use dries out the oral tissues and creates a veritable breeding ground for the bacteria that cause gum disease.
Poor oral hygiene also increases the risk of developing gum disease. Without regular brushing and flossing, bacteria can accumulate in areas between teeth, under the gums, and in the oral tissue.
Other risk factors that can’t be easily remedied include diabetes and hormonal changes associated with pregnancy. Patients who fall into categories like these should visit the dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings and be vigilant about any potential signs of early gum disease, including reddened gums, tooth pain, or bleeding when brushing or flossing.
Aging is also highly correlated to gum disease. Gum disease in older adults can be caused by a gradual build-up of bacteria resulting from age-related enamel erosion, poor diet, and poor oral hygiene. Older adults are also more likely to experience side effects like dry mouth from medication use or to have dental prostheses like dentures that can impact gum health.
Gum disease is a slowly progressing condition that can be identified in four distinct stages: gingivitis, slight periodontal disease, moderate periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease. Each stage has its own symptoms that can be identified by your dentist, and treatments will vary depending on the stage.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, you may experience red and puffy gums, increasingly yellow teeth, plaque accumulation into a harder substance (tartar), and gums that bleed when you brush or floss. Another indicator of gingivitis is bad breath. Gingivitis is largely preventable with regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings and may even be reversible with proper care and treatment.
With each subsequent stage of gum disease, gum pockets get deeper, gum tissue gets more inflamed, deterioration starts to spread into the jaw, and the teeth begin to loosen in their sockets. The condition can no longer be reversed and must be treated with increasingly invasive procedures, from scaling and root planing to gum grafts or even dental implants.
Advanced periodontitis is the most severe stage of gum disease and the symptoms and conditions experienced during this stage are not reversible without surgery. This stage is the easiest to identify with red, purple, or puffy gums; bleeding when flossing and brushing; and gums that are starting to detach and pull away from the teeth. It can be extremely painful to chew or take care of your teeth during this stage and your teeth could be deteriorating along with your gums.
When it comes to gum disease prevention, a little goes a long way. Good habits like daily brushing and flossing, as well as routine cleanings and exams, are inexpensive and simple ways to keep gum disease at bay. You can also rinse your mouth out with antiseptic mouthwash after brushing your teeth.
Your dentist also plays an important role in preventing gum disease. They can assess your current oral health situation, schedule regular cleanings, provide a procedure called scaling and planing to deep clean your teeth and gums, and prescribe medications or antibiotic gels, all to help you manage any symptoms, prevent the disease from progressing, and preserve your oral health.
As gum disease progresses in your mouth–including the continuation of receding gums, bacteria buildup, tartar buildup, and tooth decay–it may reach a point where surgery may be required to reverse the effects. Only a dentist can determine what stage of gum disease you are in and which treatments may be your best option.
Flap surgery – Flap surgery is the process of surgically removing your gums from your tooth and removing the tartar that has built up below the gums and on the enamel. The surgeon will then stitch the gums back to the tooth once the area has been cleaned and disinfected.
Tissue (Gum) Grafts – The procedure of taking healthy tissue from the mouth and stitching it to areas such as receding gums to regenerate is called gum or tissue grafting. Your surgeon will first locate the area of infection and ten use healthy tissue from other parts of your mouth to help repair the infected or damaged tissue.
Guided Bone Tissue Regeneration – Guided bone tissue regeneration, the process of detaching infected gum tissue and recontouring teeth affected by gum disease to be more uniform is an effective treatment for gum disease. This helps clear out infected gum tissue and, in the process, prevents the likelihood of your tooth deteriorating any more.
Treating gum disease gets more expensive as the condition progresses. A simple dental cleaning is the most affordable way to treat and prevent early gum disease, while more extensive procedures like scaling and root planing, flap surgery, and grafting can cost several hundred dollars.
However, you should never forgo treatment for your gum disease because of cost. While actual prices may vary depending on a number of factors, Bright Now! Dental remains committed to providing affordable options for you to receive the care you need. We accept most major insurance plans and CareCredit, and we offer the OneSmile Dental Plan for patients without insurance. Regardless of your financial situation, Bright Now! Dental will work with you to find flexible, affordable payment solutions to treat your gum disease.
Did you know that a routine cleaning from a dental hygienist can make your teeth look 3 shades whiter? Find a Bright Now! Dental office near you and discover how easy it is to repair or prevent the symptoms of gum disease, one of the most common forms of dental issues. Call or schedule an appointment online at the Bright Now! location nearest you!