Gum Disease

Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums and tissues that support your teeth.  It is also called periodontal disease. When teeth are not routinely brushed and flossed plaque and tartar build up. Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two stages of gum disease. Gingivitis affects only the gums. It is a mild form of gum disease, and if properly treated, may be reversed. Left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. Bacteria penetrate into the deeper pockets of tissue where bone and membrane support your teeth during this more destructive stage of the disease. The more severe periodontitis can lead to tooth loss and serious health problems.

Research shows that 47.2 percent of American adults over the age of 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease. Gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. It is also possible to have gum disease without experiencing any symptoms!  Ultimately, the best way to avoid or manage gum disease is by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist regularly.

What are some risk factors?

If you have these risk factors you may be at risk for gum disease:

  • Tobacco and alcohol useMan Smoking a cigar - smoking is a risk factor for gum disease
  • Systematic diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease
  • A family history of gum disease
  • Pregnancy causes hormonal changes which increase the risk of gum disease

It is important to talk with your dentist if you are taking some prescription drugs that may increase the risk of gum disease:

  • Steroids
  • Cancer therapy drugs
  • Oral contraceptives
  • Anti-epilepsy drugs
  • Calcium channel blockers

What are some warning signs?

Because pain does not always accompany warning signs gum disease is considered a “silent” disease . See Patriot Dental  if you experience:

  • Loose or separating teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Bridges or partial dentures that no longer fit properly
  • Defective Fillings
  • Recurring redness, puffiness, tenderness or swelling of your gums
  • Bleeding gums while brushing teeth, using dental floss or biting into hard foods (like an apple)
  • Gums that are pulling away (receding) from your teeth, causing them to look longer
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Persistent metal taste in your mouth
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • A sore or irritation in your mouth that does not improve within two weeks

How do we treat gum disease?

The stage of your infection and the amount of deterioration will determine how Dr. Nawiesniak and his team treat you. Dr. Nawiesniak or his hygienist will discuss your treatment options, answer questions, and explain what happens after reviewing your digital xrays and performing a thorough periodontal exam.  They will go over what to expect:

  • During and after the procedure(s)
  • The number of office visits required for treatment
  • What to do post-treatment as your gums heal
  • How to keep gum disease under control after treatment is complete

Non-Surgical Treatment:

Scaling and root planing is the most well-known type of non-surgical treatment. This under-the-gum procedure involves a careful removal of plaque and tarter from the tooth roots.  Your hygienist will remove harmful bacteria and irritants from deep beneath your gums to prevent plaque from accumulating again during this procedure.

Surgical Treatment:

To eliminate bone infections or to regenerate lost bone Dr. Nawiesniak or a periodontist he refers you to may perform periodontal surgery. The most common surgical treatments include:

Pocket Reduction

Local anesthetic is first applied before this procedure. The gum tissue is folded back to expose deeper tissues.  In some cases, irregular surfaces of the damaged bone are smoothed to limit areas where disease-causing bacteria can hide. This allows the gum tissue to better reattach to healthy bone. Harmful bacteria are removed and the gum tissue is then closed and sutured in place.

Bone Regeneration

Before the procedure a local anesthetic is applied.  Gum tissue is folded back to expose deeper tissues. Then disease-causing bacteria are removed. To encourage your body’s natural ability to regenerate bone the dentist may place a membrane, bone graft or tissue-stimulating proteins. Excess gum and bone tissues are then reshaped to expose more of the natural tooth. This can be done to one tooth (to even out the gumline) or to several teeth (to expose your natural, broad smile). Gum tissue is then closed and sutured in place.

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