Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease)
Gum disease usually can be prevented through good hygiene (brush and floss often!) and regular teeth cleanings by your dentist and hygienist to keep levels of plaque and tartar to a minimum. Following a healthy diet also is important and limiting refined sugars (colas, candy, etc.) will help prevent periodontal disease.
Periodontal Disease - also known as Gum Disease and/or Periodontitis - is an inflammatory condition affecting the gum tissue surrounding a tooth. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.
Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the tissues in the mouth and potential precursor of gum disease.
Here are some common signs of gum disease you and your dentist can look for:
Once periodontal disease sets in, if left untreated the toxins produced by the bacteria damage the teeth’s connective tissue and bone causing tooth loss.
Causes of Gum Disease
Improper Dental Hygiene: Gum disease is the result of bacterial infection in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. If plaque is not removed through daily dental hygiene practice and regular professional dental cleanings, bacteria may set in and cause gingivitis, which would eventually lead to periodontal/gum disease.
Organic Changes in the Mouth: During pregnancy, puberty, and menopause, your metabolism and hormone levels undergo changes that affect the organic balance in your mouth, making your teeth more susceptible to gum disease.
Medical Conditions: Some medications may produce an overgrowth of the gums, making them more susceptible to bacterial growth. Serious conditions that affect the body’s ability to produce sugar (such as diabetes or kidney disease) may contribute to periodontal disease. An association between certain illnesses (including diabetes, stroke and heart attack) and gum disease has also been found, making care and prevention of periodontal diseases important for your overall health..
Saliva Flow Inhibitors: The reduction of protective saliva flow as a result of certain medications that produce oral side effects or dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia) may contribute to gum disease. Because of the natural reduction of salivary flow associated with age,seniors may be more susceptible to dry mouth syndrome, and hence to gum disease.
Poor Functional Habits: Teeth grinding or clenching may impair the surrounding tissue and is a possible contributor to gum disease.
Each of the causes of gum disease can be corrected and/or controlled through proper dental hygiene, regular check ups by your dentist and prompt treatment of any identified problem.
What Does Healthy Gums and Periodontal Disease Look Like?
No Odors or tastes
Gum Tissue is light pink and firm
Stage 1 Initial Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Gums bleed easily when you brush or when probed gently during examination
Gums are inflamed and sensitive to touch
Possible bad breath and bad taste
Gums between teeth may look bluish-red in color.
Stage 2 Early Gum & Bone Disease (Early Periodontitis)
Gums may begin to pull away from the teeth
Bleeding, puffiness and inflammation more pronounced
Bad breath and bad taste
Slight loss of bone, horizontally on X-ray
Pockets of 3-4 mm between teeth and gums in one or more areas of the mouth
Stage 3 Moderate Gum & Bone Disease (Moderate Periodontitis)
Gum boils or abscesses may develop
Teeth look longer as begin to recede
Front teeth may begin to drift, showing spaces
Bad breath, bad taste
Both horizontal and angular bone loss on X-ray
Pockets between and gum range from 4-6 mm deep
Stage 4 Advanced Gum & Bone Disease (Advanced Periodontitis)
Teeth may become mobile or loose
Bad breath, bad taste are constant
Rots may be exposed and are sensitive to hot and cold
Severe horizontal and angular bone loss on X-ray
Pockets between teeth and gum now in excess of 6 mm deep
Periodontal Disease Treatments
Thee are a number of treatments available, each of which varies depending on the severity of the condition. The treatment that best meets your needs will be determined by your dentist after an evaluation, however, the basic treatment (when infection of the gums is limited) consists of:
Removing Calculus: (also known as tartar) through a professional cleaning, and sometimes through deepscaling and root planing.)
Administering Antibiotics: to treat bacteria housed in the pocketed areas of the gum.
Using Medicated Mouthwash: as a regular part of your home regimen.
In more advanced conditions, treatment may consist of one or a combination of:
Tissue Regeneration: If the bone has been destroyed, your dentist may employ a technique called tissue regeneration, which involves grafting the bone to offer a better chance of bone re-growth. To strengthen thin gums, soft tissue grafts may also be used.
Pocket Elimination Surgery: When surgery is a part of the treatment plan to help prevent tooth loss resulting from gum disease, some surgical options include:
Periodontal flap surgery - to reduce the pocket gap between the teeth and gums.
Jaw bone reshaping - to eliminate the craters housing bacteria that contribute to gum disease, and to help prevent future colonization of bacteria growth.
Laser Therapy: Laser Periodontal Therapy is used to remove only the diseased tissue without removing any of the healthy tissue, maintain the height of the tissue around teeth, minimize pain and discomfort to the patient, get a closure of the periodontal pocket wound and allow healing to take place. What this procedure means to our patients: less pain, less bleeding, less swelling, less tissue removed, less down time, and less recovery time.
The Cost of Periodontal Disease Treatment
The cost of gum disease treatment depends on several factors and/or situations. Some factors affecting treatment costs include the technology used in the procedure, dental insurance, and the treatment plan required. Your dentist will perform the initial diagnosis/treatment, but may refer you to a periodontist (a gum disease treatment specializing in more advanced treatment methods) for further treatment. In the end, gum disease treatment may cost as little as $500—or as much as $10,000—it all depends on the severity of the disease. Remember your oral hygiene regimen!
What should you do if you think you have gum disease?
Contact our office at (719) 597-6300 to schedule a convenient examination appointment as soon as possible. If the gum disease is early, sometimes all you need is cleaning. Otherwise, we shall make a more extensive evaluation and recommend a treatment plan to meet your needs.