Gum Disease Treatment and Prevention

Gum Disease Treatment and Prevention By Danny O'Keefe D.D.S. on September 20, 2012

Gum disease is one of the most prevalent oral health issues afflicting Americans today. Most of us ignore the early warning signs, not realizing that gum disease can lead to tooth loss. Dr. Danny O'Keefe offers the latest gum disease treatments at his Jackson cosmetic dentistry practice. Here is an overview of some of these treatments and steps you can take to prevent gum disease.

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the gums. Gum disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the beginning stage of gum disease, when infection only affects the gum tissue directly around the teeth. Untreated gingivitis will eventually lead to periodontitis. With periodontitis, infection extends below the gum line. In some cases the infection may even spread to the jawbone. Severe periodontitis can lead to tooth loss as pockets form between the teeth and gums. These pockets allow plaque and bacteria to further infect the gums, creating larger pockets. As these pockets grow, the gums pull away from the teeth, causing the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out.

The Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease has a number of causes, and the primary cause is a buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria. These are some of the other causes:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Smoking
  • Poor diet
  • Family history
  • Low saliva production or dry mouth
  • Medications causing dry mouth
  • Stress

The Signs of Gum Disease

The signs of gum disease vary at each stage. The symptoms of early gum disease, gingivitis, are mild compared to the more advanced stage, periodontitis. Gingivitis is marked by:

  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing and flossing
  • Gums that are red, tender, and swollen
  • Bad breath

Periodontitis has more severe symptoms. These include:

  • Bad breath that will not go away
  • Gums that are receding from the teeth
  • Pus coming from the gums
  • Loosened teeth

Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment

The key to preventing gum disease is practicing good oral hygiene. Proper oral hygiene includes brushing a minimum of twice a day, flossing once a day, and seeing your dentist regularly. Drinking plenty of water in between brushings can help rinse away food particles, reduce plaque, and lower your risk of gum disease. It is important to seek treatment at the first sign of gum disease to prevent further infection. Here are some of the most common treatments for gum disease.

  • Antibiotics: Because gum disease is an infection caused by bacteria, antibiotics are often prescribed. For some with the early stages of gum disease, antibiotics may be enough to end the infection while others may be given antibiotics after receiving other treatments.
  • Root Planing and Scaling: Root planing and scaling is a deep cleaning method to thoroughly clean the tooth beneath the gum line. The tooth is often cleaned to the root with this procedure.
  • Gingivectomy: If gum disease has reached the periodontitis stage, a gingivectomy may be necessary. A gingivectomy is the surgical removal of severely diseased gum tissue. After the tissue is removed, the gums are reshaped and any pockets created by the gum disease are closed.
  • Flap Procedure: Very severe periodontitis may require the flap procedure. Flap procedures are used when the gum disease has extended to the jawbone. During the flap procedure, the gum is cut, creating a “flap” that is pulled away from the tooth. This flap allows the dentist access to repair the root and bone. After the bone and root are cleaned and repaired, the flap is replaced and stitched closed.

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Don't let gum disease destroy your smile. For our patients in Jackson, dental crowns, dental fillings, and other treatments can restore the health and appearance of their smiles. Contact us today for your own consultation.