Gum Disease Treatment
Periodontal is a word from the Latin perio, around, and odont, tooth. Periodontal diseases and therapies deal with those tissues that surround the teeth. Sometimes simplified to gum disease, dentists who specialize in periodontal care, periodontists, actually have expert knowledge in diagnosing and treating health concerns that affect those parts of the smile that support the teeth both soft tissue and bone structure.
If you suffer from chronic periodontal disease, either mild gingivitis or advanced periodontitis, our skilled periodontist can offer treatments to renew your oral health. In the earliest stages, this may be as simple as making changes to at-home oral hygiene and visiting your general dentist for cleanings more often. As the disease advances, we may encourage patients to undergo a deep cleaning treatment that combines scaling, the removal of plaque and tartar, and root planing, the smoothing of tooth roots to prevent the advance of gum disease. We may also use oral or topical antibiotics to control the amount of plaque-producing bacteria in the mouth.
Preventing Gum Disease in Richardson
Gum disease effects millions of US adults each year, as much as 80% according to some researchers, and it is the leading cause of tooth loss for patients over the age of 35. Prevention is the key to maintaining your oral health, so it’s essential that you brush and floss every day. You should also visit a general dentist for professional teeth cleanings at least two times each year. If you are at increased risk for gum disease due to tobacco use, diabetes, pregnancy, dry mouth, or other risk factors, you may want to consider visiting a dentist more frequently.
Factors that Adversely Affect Gum Health
There are numerous reasons why patients may experience gum disease, soft tissue recession, or other health concerns including:
- Smoking or using smokeless tobacco products
- Hormonal fluctuations
- Dry mouth (which may be genetic or caused by medications or other products)
- Inadequate hygiene
An endoscope has been used for years to explore the inner structures of the body. It’s a camera that lights and enlarges various structures allowing doctors to make more accurate diagnoses. The perioscope gives our periodontist the ability to see inside the pockets between the teeth and gums where plaque and tartar may buildup damaging dental structures. We’ll insert the scope into the pocket, and images of the interior parts of the gums will appear on a chairside computer monitor. This lets our team see plaque and tartar buildup, infection, root surface damage, and other concerns. This allows us to avoid surgical diagnostics in a number of cases. Patients are able to view these as well, so it’s much easier to explain their condition and treatment plans. We can also use the perioscope to assess the success of our treatments.
Periodontal Disease & Tobacco
Tobacco use is linked to numerous chronic and systemic illnesses including cardiovascular illness, declining lung health, and a variety of cancers. Smoking and chewing tobacco will dramatically increase the risk for oral cancers, gum disease, chronic bad breath (halitosis), and dry mouth. Those patients who do experience any of these common oral health conditions are likely to experience significantly more advanced cases. The carcinogenic chemicals in tobacco products significantly increase the risk of developing malignant oral cancers. If you use any tobacco products, please let your general dentist know right away, so they can guide your treatment plans accordingly. This will include increased vigilance during oral cancer screening.
Problems caused by tobacco include:
The oral and overall health issues related to tobacco usage are numerous and well documented. Discontinuing tobacco use may diminish the chances you’ll experience health concerns including:
- Cardiovascular disease (heart attack, elevated blood pressure, etc.)
- Lung disease or difficulty breathing
- Oral, lung, and other cancers
- Severe gum disease leading to soft tissue recession and diminished bone density
- Chronic bad breath
- Staining or dental discoloration
Diabetes & Oral Health
Chronic diseases that affect the immune system can dramatically increase risk for gum disease and make it more difficult for patients to renew their oral health after having the disease. Diabetes is one of the most commonly occurring chronic illnesses that will directly affect a patient’s oral health. It’s essential that diabetic patients take precautions to avoid developing gum disease as it will be much more difficult to treat. If diabetic patients do experience gum disease, we will partner with them to maintain the best possible oral health.
Women & Periodontal Health
Women are at greater risk for periodontal disease due to the fluctuating levels of hormone in the body at various stages in their development. During puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, a woman is at increased risk for periodontal disease, and should take special care to maintain adequate oral hygiene.
The increase hormone production that occurs during puberty leads to numerous changes in the hair, skin, and body. This can also lead to changes in gum tissue health, and adolescents are at an increased risk to develop gum disease. Monitor any symptoms and schedule an appointment with your dentist as necessary.
In the days leading up to and following menstruation, you may experience changes in color or gum tissue inflammation due to the changes in hormone levels that occur during this time. In most cases, you’ll see the symptoms of gum disease diminish during menstruation and completely clear up a few days following.
Gum disease is so common during pregnancy it’s often referred to as pregnancy gingivitis. You are at the highest risk for gingivitis in the first six months of your pregnancy. You may also experience lumps or swelling in the gum tissue during your pregnancy. These cysts are typically non-cancerous and painless, so we will not recommend removal. In most cases, symptoms of periodontal disease and any cysts clear up after your pregnancy. However, it’s essential that you maintain a rigorous oral hygiene routine and keep your six month checkups during your pregnancy.
If you regularly take oral contraceptives, you’re more susceptible to gingivitis, which may lead to numerous side effects including inflamed, discolored, sensitive, or bleeding gums. Before beginning periodontal therapy, please let our team know if you use oral contraceptives as this may impact what treatments we recommend. Adverse drug interactions may diminish the effectiveness of treatments for your gum disease and the oral contraceptives.
During menopause, you may experience increased dry mouth, changes in the color or texture of soft tissue, gum tissue pain or burning, chronic bad breath (halitosis), or strange peppery, salty, or sour tastes in the mouth. We will guide your at-home hygiene routine to help counteract these adverse conditions, and we can prescribe mouth rinses and other therapies for dry mouth.