Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection affecting the tissues and bones supporting and surrounding the teeth. Gum disease is an extremely common and dangerous condition as it can inflict mild to severe damage to the gums and teeth. One of the most dangerous aspects of gum disease is that it is often painless until it has reached its most damaging stage. If gum disease is caught in its earliest stage, it can be completely eradicated. If left untreated, gum disease will likely cause irreversible damage to the teeth and gums, which often leads to tooth loss. There are two stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.
What Causes Gum Disease?
The most common cause of gum disease is the formation and build-up of plaque on the surfaces of the teeth. Over time, this build-up of plaque develops into tartar. When tartar develops at the base of the teeth, it can only be removed through professional dental treatment. The build-up of plaque and tartar on the teeth begins to irritate and inflame the gums. The bacteria found within plaque and tartar leads to the gums becoming infected.
Because it can be quite difficult to control gum disease once it has progressed to its most advanced stage, prevention is especially important. Fortunately, good dental hygiene, routine dental check-ups and cleanings, and a healthy diet can prevent gum disease from developing altogether.
The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. The majority of our Boston cosmetic dentistry patients with gingivitis experience no pain from the condition. Symptoms of gingivitis include inflamed gums, bleeding gums during teeth brushing, gums that are tender when touched, gums that appear purple or bright red, and gums that appear shiny. The gums are affected by gingivitis, but the bones supporting the teeth are not. Because of this, gingivitis can be treated before it causes permanent damage to the gums and teeth. When properly treated, gingivitis will not progress to more advanced gum disease.
The second stage of gum disease, periodontitis, is quite dangerous as it results in irreversible damage to the bones and tissues surrounding the teeth. Symptoms of periodontitis include gums that bleed easily (even when not touched), inflamed gums, receding gums, bad breath, and teeth that are loose or shifting in the mouth. Many of our dental patients with periodontitis experience the loss of one or more teeth because of periodontitis. To prevent further damage to the tissues and bones supporting the teeth, patients with symptoms of periodontitis should seek immediate dental care. To schedule an appointment, please contact Dental Associates of New England.
Gum Disease Treatment
Gum disease should always be treated in the least invasive way possible. Unfortunately, the longer gum disease is left untreated, the harder it is to treat. For many of our Boston gum disease patients, surgical treatments are not required. For the most severe cases of gum disease, surgical solutions may be necessary. Gum disease treatment includes professional dental cleaning, scaling and root planing, flap surgery, and, if a tooth is lost due to gum disease, dental implants. To remove stubborn plaque and tartar, multiple rounds of treatment may be required.
- Professional dental cleaning: Regular professional dental cleanings are strongly recommended for every patient. During this process, plaque and tartar are removed from the surfaces of the teeth and along the gum line.
- Scaling and root planing: Scaling and root planing are commonly used to treat periodontitis. Scaling scrapes off plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing smooths the rough spots left on the roots of the teeth, created by the scaling process. This provides an area free of bacteria for the gums to reattach to.
- Flap surgery: Flap surgery may be required if scaling and root planing are not enough to remove tartar buildup in the pockets of the gums. During this procedure, the gums are lifted and tartar is removed. The gums are then sutured snugly against the teeth.
Contact Dental Associates of New England Today
To learn about gum disease treatment, please contact our Boston cosmetic dentistry practice today.