Gum disease is one of the many ailments a person may face that starts off painless but can become quite serious over time. However, if you regularly keep your entire mouth clean and partake in periodontal maintenance, then you are going to have the best chances possible of avoiding those serious consequences.
Never take the symptoms of gum disease for granted. The occasional bleeding of your gums may be nothing, but if it starts happening all the time, we need to see you. Without some type of periodontal treatment, it will progress. Instead, be proactive about your oral health. Call Dr. Xixi Wu today and let us take a look. If we suspect gum disease, we will confirm the diagnosis and figure out the best treatment plan for your specific situation.
Understanding the Basics of Gum Disease
Poor oral health is the most common reason that most people will develop gum disease. The beginning stages are when there is a development of plaque along the surface and gumline of each tooth. The more plaque builds up, the more damage is being done to both the tooth and the gums. The tooth will begin to erode and the gums will become inflamed, leaving them red, tender, and easy to bleed. If not treated, that gum tissue will begin to release itself from the tooth, leaving gaps between the gums and the teeth to form. This is an ideal place for bacteria to breed, and it will often leave to dental abscesses.
From there, gum recession is going to occur more rapidly, as will issues such as increased tooth sensitivity and tooth pain. If the pockets between the gums and teeth are allowed to continue growing, it can lead to tooth loss and even issues with the jawbone itself. The teeth will no longer have support to stay in, which will cause them to wobble and fall out over time. The more teeth fall out, the more gum and bone tissue gets exposed to the bacteria, and the worse the situation becomes.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
There are serious consequences of Periodontal Disease. If you worry about gum disease and want to do your best to avoid it, then you need to know what risk factors could put you in line of developing it. First, you must always brush and floss like your regular dentist tells you to do. We may tell you to do it differently than they do, but it should still be twice a day for brushing, and at least once a day for flossing. Poor oral hygiene practices are one of the risk factors you can control. Our goal is to help you keep your gums, teeth, and jaw in optimal health following a gum disease diagnosis, so we are always going to partner with them and have you follow their instructions. They are the first line of defense for your mouth, so they are your first stop for periodontal maintenance.
Some people develop issues with gum disease because they have crooked teeth. This makes the teeth more difficult to keep clean because they crisscross and cover areas of other teeth. Bacteria and debris can get into those tiny gaps, but in many instances, your toothbrush cannot. This can lead to issues with bad breath, gum disease, and even tooth decay.
Tobacco products are another risk factor when it comes to gum disease. These products do a number on both your teeth and your sensitive gum tissues. Should you have any minor problems in your mouth that would normally heal, the use of tobacco slows this process, sometimes even stopping it from being possible at all. Stopping the use of these products can make a huge difference in terms of your overall oral health, not just your gum health.
You can also develop gum disease from an excessive consumption of alcohol. A drink now and again may not be a major issue. However, if you regularly consume alcohol, you have the issues that happen as a direct result of the alcohol, plus you also have the dry mouth that comes with it. The drier your mouth is, the more likely you are to develop issues like gum disease. Saliva is imperative for a healthy mouth, so too little of it is going to have ripple effects all around your mouth.
Drug use of any type, legal or otherwise, is also a problem for your mouth. It can lead to deficiencies as well as struggles with how your mouth is supposed to function. Many prescription medications have dry mouth as a side effect. Plus, if your mouth is not getting the nutrients it needs, this could lead to problems like having gum disease.
Ways of Preventing Gum Disease That Start at Home
All periodontal maintenance starts with the oral hygiene routine that you have at home. You need to make sure you brush properly twice each day. At least once per day, you must floss around each tooth in your mouth. Forgetting even one surface of one tooth could be the start of a problem that could otherwise be avoided in some cases.
It is also vital that you make sure to keep up with your regular dental practices, like going to your dentist for an exam and a cleaning every six months. If they notice even one sign of a problem with your gums, they will have you come to see us and we will help clean your mouth out to prevent the issue from getting worse. The sooner you come to us, the easier gum disease is to treat, which is why your dentist will refer you to us right away.
Symptoms You May Have Gum Disease
One of the reasons that gum disease often gets to the point of being relatively progressed before people get help for it is because the earliest symptoms of the problem are totally painless. There are no aches and pains to expect right away. What you will notice are gums that stat to swell up just a little bit, but typically do not hurt. You may even notice a tiny bit of bleeding when you brush. It is easy to overlook that or think that maybe you bumped your mouth wrong or ate something sharp during your last meal. However, these are all signs of an impending problem. This stage of gum disease is considered gingivitis, and it is also considered relatively easy to treat. If caught early enough, we can actually reverse some to most of the damage.
From there, most people begin to see the early signs of gum recession. This is when one area of the gums pull back slightly from where it used to sit against the tooth. The gum tissue may look slightly uneven at first. This is when some of the early pain may come in. Gum recession is often accompanied by teeth that become more sensitive to temperature changes. In this time, the gums may throb slightly or tingle a little, but again, this is minor and easily overlooked. This is when periodontitis is starting. It is more advanced than gingivitis, but it is still relatively treatable without too many complications.
Most people develop bad breath that simply will not go away during this phase as well. No matter how much you brush or floss, that breath is still harsh, which should be your sign to get a cleaning and exam right away. This is often when chronic periodontitis is starting, and it will only progressively get worse from here. Once the inflammation becomes chronic, it becomes much more difficult to treat, and most of the damage done is lasting. The only way to overcome the damage is to have surgery to replace lost tissue or degenerated bone.
From there, you enter the area that leads to the most difficulties. Your teeth in this stage become unstable. The ligaments that hold your teeth in place are struggling to do their job due to the gum disease and it can lead to teeth that shift around or become loose. You may notice that it hurts to bite into some of the foods you once loved to eat. Plus, you may notice that when you bite down, your teeth do not sit the same way. It can become more difficult to eat and even speak at this point. If your teeth get to where they are too loose, they will begin to fall out. This is considered aggressive periodontitis and it is progressively going to ruin the structures inside your mouth without immediate treatment.
Finally, there is necrotizing periodontal disease. This is the worst stage of the disease, and not everyone gets to this point. This tends to happen most in smokers or drinkers, people who have immune deficiencies, or people without proper nourishment. What happens during necrotizing periodontitis is the tissues of your gums and within the jaw begin to die, and progressively die off quickly after the condition begins. This requires immediate treatment, or it could put your life in jeopardy, so we never want to take the chance of your mouth getting to this point.
How Can the Different Stages of Periodontal Disease Be Treated?
When gum disease is still in its early stages, one of the most effective gum disease treatment is a simple one. It is called scaling and root planing. Following a heavy-duty cleaning of your teeth, we take that cleaning one step further. We pull down the gum tissue and scale or scrape and clean your tooth all the way down to the root. This lets us get a lot of bacteria away from your gums and your tooth, and is often a great way to get the periodontal disease to stop. If we can get all of the areas inside your mouth nice and clean, then we can keep them that way and help you get past your gum disease with the right type of follow-up care.
Next, we will set up more regular cleaning and care for a while, usually 6 months to 1 year. That means we will see you and perform this deep cleaning again more often for a short time. We will often clean your mouth once every two or three months instead of the more traditional schedule of every six months. This lets us get into those pockets and remove anything that could be trying to restart your gum disease all over again. This helps the gum tissue become reattached to the teeth more effectively, while also keeping your mouth extra clean.
If the pockets between your gums and your teeth were a little more pronounced during your root scaling and planing, we may also schedule you for a pocket reduction. While gums are incredibly resilient and can stretch a large way, they do not always bounce back as quickly as we’d like. In that case, we will go in and remove any excess tissue so that the pockets are smaller between your gums and teeth. This makes the reattachment process much easier. We will also make sure to clean out any bacteria that found their way back into the pocket during the procedure, allowing you to go home and recuperate with a healthy mouth.
If your gums receded too far and your teeth now hurt, we may also need to perform a gum graft. This is when we take outside tissue and place it over the root of your tooth to once again support the tooth and hold it in place. The tissue may be yours or it may be a donor tissue, but either way, it allows your teeth to stay more firmly in place as your mouth heals.
For those who have gotten all the way to jawbone damage from their gum disease, we also have the option of a bone graft. This is when we replace some of the lost bone in your jaw to help restore its strength and integrity. This, again, can be your tissue or donor tissue, but it will help your jaw get stronger and healthier as we treat any remaining bacteria in your mouth. Should we need to put in dental implants to restore any missing teeth, this is a necessary step to ensure that your implants will be able to take hold and restore function to your mouth.
We Can Help with Periodontal Maintenance
If you want to find out more about the process of periodontal maintenance, or if you want to do more to prevent gum disease in the first place, then reach out to us here at Dr. Xixi Wu. You can call us at (972) 669-9444 today and we can set up a time to sit down and talk about how to keep your smile as healthy as possible.