Gum Disease Treatment
Philadelphia dentist Dr. Gerald Regni considers proper treatment for gum disease to be among the most important jobs a dentist has. Why? Because to maintain good oral health, you must consider both the teeth and gums in the equation, not just one or the other.
Dr. Regni has many years of advanced training in gum treatment and tooth restoration, making him uniquely qualified to diagnose the state of your teeth and gums and help you keep your teeth for years to come.
Treating Gum Disease – A Vital Part of a Dentist’s Job
Dr. Regni takes gum treatment seriously. Healthy teeth and gums mean much more than a pretty smile. According to recent research, poor oral health and serious health problems often go hand in hand.
Periodontal disease (inflammation or degeneration of the gums and bones supporting the teeth) affects 75% of Americans over age 55, causing 25% of them to lose their teeth. But has also increased the risk of other, more serious health problems.
Periodontal disease involves infections of the gums and bone that may be present years before symptoms necessitate treatment.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by plaque, a colorless film of bacteria that forms on teeth. Plaque is most harmful when these bacteria form into colonies, which takes about 24 hours. If not removed daily, plaque mixes with sugars and starches in the diet to form acids and other byproducts in the saliva. Plaque irritates the gums, causing them to become red, tender and swollen. It also causes the gums to bleed easily.
If not removed, plaque hardens to form calculus (tarter) around the neck of the teeth. Eventually, the irritants in plaque destroy the tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth. The gums pull away from the teeth and small pockets form between the teeth and gums. These pockets become filled with more plaque. Eventually, the jawbone supporting the teeth is destroyed.
Low-grade, ongoing bacterial infection activates the immune system, resulting in chronic inflammation, which doubles the risk of stroke and triples the risk of heart attack.
What risks are involved if Periodontal Disease goes untreated?
Gum Disease can slowly and progressively affect your entire body.
Periodontal disease is usually a slow, painless, progressive disease. Most adults with gum disease are unaware that they have it. However, if diagnosed early, the teeth can be saved.
Bacteria from pockets of pus in the gum and bone get into the bloodstream with tooth brushing and dental procedures. There are well established links between periodontal disease and some systemic illnesses, including stroke, blood clots, cardiovascular disease, coronary heard disease, peripheral vascular disease, pregnancy outcomes, diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic disease and arthritis.
Click here to download an article from Dr. Regni with more information about Gum Disease.
What causes Periodontal Disease?
In addition to plaque, a number of factors contribute to gum disease including:
- Physical and chemical irritants – impacted food, smoking, chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, improper use of dental floss and toothpicks.
- Oral conditions or habits that cause abnormal stress on mouth tissues – badly aligned teeth, poor fitting bridges or partial dentures, defective fillings; also habits such as grinding or clenching the teeth, or chewing on ice.
- Unbalanced diet – evidence shows a link between nutritional deficiency and the body’s ability to fight off infection.
- Pregnancy – increased hormone levels may aggravate a condition commonly referred to as “pregnancy gingivitis.”
- Disease- diabetes, uremia, liver dysfunction, AIDS, anemia and leukemia may affect the health of your gums.
- Certain medications – oral contraceptives, anti-epilepsy drugs, steroids and cancer therapy drugs may also affect the gums.
- Parasites – organisms that take up residence in your body, and work to undermine your health and cause breadk down.
- Toxicity – an accumulation of foreign metal and chemicals can unbalance your body’s biologial terrain, making you susceptible to disease, and manifesting in evidence of gum disease.
What are the signs of Periodonal Disease?
Signs of Periodontal Disease, in different stages, include:
- Gums that bleed when you brush;
- Red, swollen or tender gums;
- Gums that have receded or shrunken away from your teeth;
- Pus between your teeth and gums when you press your gums with your finger;
- Teeth that seem loose or change position; often the front teeth tend to “fan” out;
- A change in your bite;
- A change in the way your partial dentures fit;
- Bad breath or chronic bad taste in your mouth.
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of periodontal disease is to have your mouth thoroughly examined, and the necessary oral X-rays to be taken. At that time we may use a special instrument called a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the crevice (pocket) – the space between the tooth and gum tissue. Pocket depth measurement, clinical examination and X-rays determine the precise extent of gum disease.
The type of treatment you require depends on how advanced your particular case is. Individualized treatment may include any of the following:
- Prophylactic cleaning which we recommend to have every 3, 4 or 6 month a year depending on the condition of your gum.
- Scaling and root planning. Scaling is removing the calculus deposits from your teeth; root planning is the smoothing of the root surfaces so that the gum tissue can reattach to the tooth.
- Curettage removes the soft tissue lining of the periodontal pocket. This helps the gum tissue to heal.
- Gingivectomy is a surgical removal of the periodontal pockets when the disease does not involve the jawbone.
- Flap surgery allows us to gain access to the root of the tooth for removal of calculus, plaque and diseased tissue. The gum is then secured back into place. Flap surgery is sometimes accompanied by osseous (bone) surgery, in which the bone around the tooth is reshaped or part of it is removed.
- Laser Therapy (non-surgical) – ask for details.
- Nutritional support of the major organs, including medicaments treatment with bacteria-minimizing and bacteria-killing agents, irrigated around the tissues.
More than half of all adults aged 35 and over have the early stages of this disease. Three out of four adults are eventually affected by it. Periodontal disease is the primary cause of lost teeth after age 35. But the good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent periodontal disease in your mouth. If caught in its early stages, gum disease can be reversed.