Treatment Options for Gum Disease
Gum disease is the most common dental problem in the country, affecting a majority of adults to at least some extent. While most cases of disease are minor, often going unrecognized by patients, this problem can gradually become more severe when left untreated. To learn if you are properly managing your gum disease, consider its various stages and symptoms, as noted below. No matter the condition of your gums, our Wilmington cosmetic dentistry practice offers multiple methods of treatment to appropriately combat disease.
Recognizing Gum Disease
Many patients exhibit symptoms of mild gum disease, but do not immediately attribute them to a larger dental problem. When gums bleed after brushing, for instance, this is likely indicative of gingivitis – the initial form of gum disease. Additional symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Reddened or inflamed gums
- Sensitive gums
- A receding gum line
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Shifting teeth
If any of these symptoms are present, patients should consult their dentist for a more accurate assessment as well as a suggested treatment plan.
Treating Gingivitis At Home
Luckily, early cases of gingivitis can be controlled through simple at-home care. As good hygiene is the cornerstone of dental health, patients should be diligent and thorough in their brushing and flossing habits:
- Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, replacing your toothbrush every four months.
- Floss daily, curving the floss around the edges of teeth and moving it up and down. The floss should come in contact with the gum line in its movement.
- Use mouthwash if the gums do not seem to improve over time. Consult your dentist for an appropriate brand of mouthwash for you, such as one containing fluoride or chlorhexidine.
In addition to hygiene habits, consider how you can help your gums through diet. Crunchy foods, such as celery or carrots, are great at cleaning teeth and gums as you eat. Water is also helpful, as it washes away food particles and neutralizes acids. Patients who suffer from dry mouth also have an elevated risk of gum disease, and should therefore drink extra water to offset this risk.
In-office Care for Gum Disease
If at-home hygiene is not effective at reducing gum disease, or disease has been allowed to spread, professional treatment may be required to restore the health of your gums. After examining your gums, the dentist will determine the degree of gum disease and which treatment is most appropriate. In some cases, a simple cleaning procedure may be enough to remove bacteria from teeth and gums. However, if pockets of plaque have formed beneath the gums, a deep cleaning may be necessary:
- Local anesthesia may be used prior to a deep cleaning, to prevent discomfort while working below the gum line.
- A scaling tool will be used between gum tissue and the roots of teeth, scraping off plaque and tarter.
- A planing tool will resurface teeth to make them smoother. This prevents bacteria from attaching to the rough spots of teeth, while encouraging gums to heal more efficiently against them.
- Antibacterial medication may be administered into the pockets, curbing infection.
Treating Advanced Cases of Gum Disease
As gum disease progresses, it can result in a number of additional complications. Aside from the worsening of typical symptoms, infection can spread to the roots of teeth, leading to decay and eventual tooth loss. Although not all cases of gingivitis progress into periodontitis – a more severe form of gum disease – all periodontitis is caused by gingivitis. In such cases, the following methods of restorative dentistry may be suggested:
- Flap surgery: Similar to a deep cleaning, flap surgery aims to remove infection from gums and the roots of teeth. Due to the depth of bacterial pockets, though, the gums must be surgically pulled back before cleaning, and then sutured in place afterward.
- Bone graft: Periodontitis reduces bone tissue in the jaw, resulting in shifting teeth or tooth loss. Moreover, a weakened jaw cannot support dental implants, which would be used to replace lost tooth. After infection is treated, a bone graft may be recommended to replace lost tissue and strengthen the jaw.
Come In for a Consultation
Don’t let disease linger in your gums. Let us help you treat gingivitis before it becomes a real problem. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation or routine hygienic cleaning.
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