Philadelphia emergency dentist Dr. Gerald Regni believes that proper gum treatment is the best possible way to keep your teeth healthy and your dentist happy. Good oral hygiene consists of taking care of your teeth and gums not just your teeth.
Dr. Regni understands the importance of gum health to not just your teeth, but also the entire body as well as a means to prevent more serious health problems. He is an expert in diagnosis and treatment for optimal oral and overall health.
Dentists Treat More Than Just Your Teeth
Dr. Regni believes that proper teeth cleaning and gum treatment is the foundation to having a healthy mouth – and keeping visits to the emergency dentist unnecessary. More and more studies are starting to show that spotty oral health and poor overall health are often intertwined.
Did you know that 75 percent of Americans over the age of 55 have some form of periodontal disease? This is the inflammation of the gums and/or bone structure that supports your teeth. Of this group, 25 percent of them will end up losing some or all of their teeth!
Thought that was the worst of it? Think again. Periodontal disease can silently degrade your teeth and gums for years before symptoms become bad enough to require treatment.
A Description of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is the result of a collection of plaque. Plaque is a pool of bacteria that regularly forms on your teeth. The real damage starts after 24 hours or so, when the bacteria grow into full colonies. This is why it is so essential to remove this plaque buildup at least daily (and preferably more often than that) so that this harmful bacteria can’t interact with the foods you eat every day to accelerate gum irritation, which left untreated, can make the gums red, swollen and easily bleed.
If left untreated for an extended period, or if certain areas are consistently missed while brushing, the plaque buildup hardens into calculus – better known as tarter. This tarter tends to collect around the base of the teeth. As it does so, the gums retreat from the area, exposing a new, lower base of the tooth to be attacked by tarter. Left untreated, this process can go all the way down into the jawbone, destroying teeth in the process, resulting in many trips to the dentist.
What Are the Risks if You Leave Periodontal Disease Untreated?
If this process isn’t stopped, the eventual result is bacteria entering the rest of your body, causing constant low-grade inflammation in the body, which can increase the risks of a number of serious illnesses, including heart attacks and strokes.
How can this happen? It’s pretty simple: as bacteria collects and grows in numbers, it causes irritation that leads to bleeding gums. Once you brush your teeth, bacteria are carried into your bloodstream and throughout the rest of your body. The eventual effects of this process can be numerous, and may include increased risk of strokes, heart disease, diabetes, IBS, arthritis, blood clots and more.
What Are Some of the Causes of Periodontal Disease?
There are a number of things that can contribute to gum disease. Some are quite obvious, while others may be new to you. Here are some of them:
- Things you put in your mouth – this can include regular food and alcohol, habit-based things such as smoking or chewing tobacco, or even things you try to clean your teeth with, such as toothpicks or dental floss.
- Mouth structure and habits – anything that might cause a high amount of stress on your teeth or gums, such as ice chewing, poorly fitted dentures or bridges, bad fillings, misaligned teeth, or grinding/clenching your teeth, either while you’re awake or subconsciously at night.
- Diet problems – if you eat a consistently unhealthy diet, numerous studies have shown a reduction in the body’s ability to prevent or fully eliminate infections.
- Disease – as mentioned above, periodontal disease can cause illness. In turn, illnesses such as diabetes, AIDS, leukemia, and others can increase the rate of gum and teeth degradation.
- Pregnancy – due to the dramatic shift in hormones caused by pregnancy, some women are susceptible to increased levels of gingivitis during this period of time.
- Medications – numerous drugs can accelerate the rate of gum disease, including anti-seizure drugs, steroids and oral contraceptives.
How Do I Know if I Have Periodontal Disease?
Here are some of the ways you can tell if you may be dealing with some stage of periodontal disease:
- Bleeding, swollen, red, or tender gums, particularly if bleeding occurs while brushing.
- Receding gums (gums that are pulling back from the base of your teeth).
- A buildup of fluid/pus that exposes itself when you press on your gums.
- Teeth that move or feel loose in any way.
- A noticeable change in your bite (jawbone shift).
- Either consistent bad breath or a persistent bad taste in your mouth, even after brushing.
How to Diagnose Periodontal Disease
Only your dentist can make a positive diagnosis of periodontal disease. This is generally done by a through oral examination, usually combined with a series of oral x-rays. Finally, the dentist may use a small tool called a periodontal probe. This is used to measure the distance between the tooth and gums, called the pocket or crevice. This entire treatment process, taken together, will help determine the presence and severity of your periodontal disease.
Ways to Treat Periodontal Disease
Treatment will largely depend upon the severity of your periodontal disease. Two of the available treatments include:
- Cleaning-Having this done regularly (2-4 times a year) is usually enough to prevent the necessity of some of the more invasive procedures.
- Scaling-This involves the process of removing the plaque buildup on your teeth by scraping it off with a metal tool similar to a pick.
- Flap surgery – your dentist moves the flap of your gum in order to reach the root of your tooth so that he or she can rid your teeth of plaque, tarter and any gum tissue that’s become diseased. The dentist will then place your gum flap back securely. This type of treatment sometimes goes along with osseous surgery, in which part of the bone that surrounds your tooth is either removed or the entire bone is reshaped.
- Currettage – This procedure involves removing the periodontal pocket’s soft tissue lining, helping your gum’s tissue heal.
- Gingivectomy – This is the removal via surgery of the periodontal pockets. Gingivectomy can take place when your periodontal disease doesn’t affect the jawbone.
- Non-surgical laser therapy – Talk to us for information on this treatment.
- Dietary care – If your major organs need assistance, we can prescribe medicaments treatment with agents that kill or minimize the bacteria that are attacking your tissues. These medicaments are irrigated around the affected tissues.
Treatments become more invasive (and sometimes surgical in nature) as the disease becomes more pronounced. Regular visits to Dr. Regni can prevent those types of treatments from ever becoming necessary!
The sad reality is, more than half of people over the age of 35 have some degree of gum disease. Fortunately, if caught in its early stages it is easy to eliminate. Good oral hygiene habits will go a long way in preventing problems from ever developing.
Today was my first visit at Dr. Regni’s and I must say I received overall excellent services from this office. Everyone was very friendly and professional. I had a scaling with Michelle today and I was very comfortable. I did not have to wait long in the waiting area, and this was great compared to other offices I been to in the past. The treatment plan I received moves me toward my vision in regards to my smile because I am also getting a new partial. My previous one was very old fashioned. I am going to refer my daughter to this office and I even wish Dr. Regni would expand his office in Florida because that is where I live.