Gum disease, simply stated, is an infection of your gums. Without intervention, it only gets worse. What starts out as minor swelling of the gums with the occasional bleeding from brushing and flossing, quickly turns into receding gums, infections in the jawbone and teeth and even tooth loss. A popular solution to treating gum disease is through surgery. Surgery is an extreme and invasive option.
At Downtown Dental Care, we believe in providing you with all of your options, and the treatment of gum disease does not always mean surgery. Instead, we can offer a non-surgical alternative of gum disease therapy.
What Happens When You Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease starts out as a small, barely noticeable infection, known as gingivitis. Signs usually include swelling and redness of your gums as well as bleeding. You may never even notice these issues, attributing the irritation to brushing or flossing too vigorously. If you don’t get the issue checked out right away, gum disease continues to progress. Inflammation, which is often caused by plaque on the teeth that has hardened into tartar pushing against gum tissue, causes your gums to pull away from your teeth. Bacteria, as well as tiny bits of food, fall below the gum line, where a toothbrush or floss cannot reach them. The bacteria begin to multiply and cause further infection, which gets into the roots of your teeth and the jawbone. From your jawbone, it can enter the blood stream and spread throughout the rest of the body.
Treating Gum Disease
When gum disease has gone beyond gingivitis, professional treatment is necessary. This is because the hard tartar buildup cannot be removed with regular brushing, and infections need to be removed from under the gums. Gum disease therapy involves a deep cleaning that is known as scaling and root planing.
Scaling is the process during which a specialized scaling tool is used to remove stubborn tartar and plaque buildup, as well as bacteria, from the surfaces of your teeth, both above and below the gum line. The procedure doesn’t require anesthesia, but it may cause some discomfort, so if your gums are sensitive, or you have a low pain threshold, we can give you a local anesthetic to help ease the pain. Antimicrobial agents are also administered under the gums as well to help kill off bacteria.
Root planing is the smoothing of the surfaces of the roots of your teeth, which removes buildup, bacteria and toxins, lessening the likelihood of new bacteria collecting there.
After your treatment is over, a follow up visit, approximately 6 to 8 weeks later, is required to check on the condition of your gums and determine how well they have responded to treatment. From this point, it will be determined whether or not you need periodontal maintenance.
If one treatment of scaling and root planing is not enough to start reversing the effects of gum disease, periodontal maintenance is the next step. This course of treatment involves several visits to the office for more deep cleanings and evaluations. Dr. Christianson will continually monitor the progress of your gum disease, making sure you are getting better, not worse. The frequency of your visits will depend upon the severity of your condition.
Gum disease needs to be treated. If you have started to notice bleeding gums, gum recession, or loose teeth, give us a call at (503) 420-7600 to schedule an appointment.