What Can Be Done About Gum Disease?
You’ve probably heard in recent years that the health of our gums contributes to good overall health, especially when it comes to our heart. What, though, if you suffer from gum disease? Is there anything you can do to improve your dental health? There are many different gum treatments available to patients. Let’s first take a brief look at what causes gum disease.
Gum Disease – What is it?
Our mouths are full of bacteria. We want to reduce the overall amount of bad bacteria in the mouth. One way we do this is by regularly flossing and brushing our teeth. The plaque that builds up on our teeth surfaces contains millions of bacteria. If we don’t regularly remove the plaque, it will build up, harden, and irritate the gum tissue. Besides causing tooth decay, the plaque and bacteria can cause pockets around the teeth to deepen, the gums to become red and swollen, and can cause bleeding. It can be likened to a sliver; if it’s never removed, the irritation and swelling become worse and result in infection which contributes to tooth and bone loss.
For mild cases of gum disease, such as gingivitis, regular cleanings can take care of the issue. Of course, this needs to be followed with daily at-home care. A cleaning once or twice a year will not keep gum disease at bay. It helps but only in conjunction with regular home care.
For more severe cases of gum disease, you may need a one or more of the following procedures:
- Scaling and Root Planing – This is a deep cleaning which is needed because the gum pockets are deeper, and there is more plaque and tartar build-up. The hygienist or dentist will numb you and use special instruments to remove the build-up and bacteria.
- Periodontal Surgery – If your bone is healthy and the teeth are stable, a flap surgery may be done to reduce the pocket depths. If the pockets remain deep, there is no way you can keep them clean on your own at home. Reducing the pocket depth will make home cleaning easier and more effective.
- Medications – Antibiotic medications can be taken in pill form or can be placed within individual gum pockets. For instance, if you have a few deep pockets around your back teeth only, an antibiotic ointment can be placed within those pockets to kill the damaging bacteria. This procedure is usually done after scaling and root planing.
Prevention of gum disease is important to staying healthy. It also prevents further dental problems including decay and tooth loss. Our goal should be to keep all of our teeth for our entire life. This isn’t an impossible task, even if you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease. Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist to find out about what gum treatments might be right for you and to learn what you can do to maintain healthy gums at home after treatment.