Gum Disease Treatment and Periodontal Care

With advanced treatment options for gum disease, our dentists in Elgin can restore the health of your gums and reduce the potential for developing serious problems that can affect both periodontal and general health. Untreated gum disease can get significantly worse over time, ultimately leading to tooth loss and even life-threatening health risks. Dr. Dean Lodding and our team at Smile for Life Dental offer an array of procedures, including laser dentistry options, that can address periodontal disease with effective results.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Girl Healthy GumsPeriodontal (gum) disease is characterized by a bacterial infection of the soft gum tissues. Initially, the infection is typically mild, and may not even show any overt symptoms; however, if it is left untreated, gum disease will progress into more severe stages. As periodontal disease gets worse, risks to an individual’s oral and general health increase. In fact, gum disease has been linked to a variety of dangerous oral systemic health conditions, including heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, and even certain types of cancer.

Most people will eventually have some form of gum disease, even those who have taken exemplary care of their teeth and gums over the course of their lives. The good news is that there are many periodontal treatments available that have proven to successfully renew gum health and prevent gum disease from causing additional harm.

To learn more about the mouth-body connection and why a healthy mouth is so important to overall health, please visit our Wellness and Dentistry page.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is most often caused by an invasion of bacteria that develops into plaque within the gums and on the teeth. This plaque can build up and eventually turn into a hardened substance called tartar (also referred to as “calculus”). Regular brushing and flossing can often effectively remove plaque to some extent; however, it can occur in hard-to-reach areas, which is why routine professional dental cleanings are recommended. These in-depth cleanings can address plaque and tartar that have settled in areas too difficult to reach with an ordinary toothbrush or dental floss. With this in mind, if gum disease has already progressed to more severe stages, a more extensive periodontal procedure may be required to remove calculus that is very deep inside the gums and potentially destroying bone and tissue that secure the tooth roots.

The development of gum disease can be attributed to a number of factors; some of the more common contributors include:

  • Insufficient/inadequate daily oral hygiene regimens
  • The use of tobacco products
  • Not attending the recommended number of annual dental visits for check-ups and professional cleanings
  • Poor diet/nutrition
  • Bruxism (grinding or clenching the teeth)
  • Hormonal changes
  • Certain illnesses or medical conditions
  • A family history of gum disease
  • Certain kinds of medication

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease?

It’s very important to visit the dentist for routine dental exams because the presence of gum disease may not exhibit any overt symptoms in some cases. A professional evaluation can identify the condition. That said, many individuals do experience noticeable symptoms of periodontal disease. Common signs of this condition include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Swelling or inflammation in the gum tissue
  • Gums that feel very sensitive
  • Receding gums
  • Separation of the gum tissue from the teeth
  • Teeth that feel like they are loose or are shifting position
  • A fluid or pus discharge along the gums or between the teeth
  • A difference in the way the teeth bite down
  • A change in the fit of oral appliances or dentures
  • Chronic halitosis (bad breath)
  • Tooth loss

The bacteria that invade oral tissues may also get into the bloodstream, heightening the risks of serious general health conditions. With periodontal care, many of the symptoms of gum disease can be reduced and the condition of the gums and teeth significantly improved.

What Are the Different Stages of Periodontal Disease?

Gingivitis

The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. This is the mildest form of the condition; however, if it is not treated, it will likely develop into a more serious type of periodontal disease. Some individuals may not experience any noticeable symptoms from gingivitis; others may experience bleeding gums while brushing and flossing. In the gingivitis stage, the bacteria has typically not yet affected the connective oral tissues and bone that keep the teeth in place, which makes it possible to reverse the condition with professional treatment.

Periodontitis

The next stage of gum disease is periodontitis, which indicates that bone and tissues that keep the teeth secure are being irreversibly damaged by the condition. Periodontitis often results in the development of deep pockets surrounding the teeth, leading to plaque and food becoming trapped within the gums. This type of periodontal disease may also lead to noticeably receding gums. With gum treatment and a few enhancements to the patient’s at-home oral hygiene regimen, periodontitis can be prevented from progressing into the final, most serious stage of gum disease.

Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is the most severe kind of gum disease, and is usually diagnosed when the infection has nearly or completely destroyed connective tissue fibers and bone. Teeth that feel loose, bite irregularities, and pain may occur with advanced periodontitis. This stage can also cause dramatically increased risks to oral and overall health. Aggressive treatment to adequately address the condition may be required at this stage of periodontal disease.

What Gum Disease Treatments Are Available?

A professional dental cleaning is often an effective first step in the battle against gum disease. For many patients who are in the early stages of the condition, a dental cleaning may be all that’s required to successfully keep gum disease at bay. For more advanced stages, our practice offers procedures such as:

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is a standard, non-surgical procedure that has been utilized successfully for many years. Sometimes referred to as a “deep cleaning,” scaling and root planing can remove plaque and calculus from deep within the gums. The “scaling” aspect of the treatment refers to a meticulous cleaning process to remove plaque and tartar below the gumline, whereas the “root planing” part of the equation involves smoothing out the tooth roots with a specialized tool. The bacteria will be removed and the areas disinfected to restore periodontal health. This treatment encourages a healthier attachment between the gum tissue and the teeth.

Laser Gum Treatment

Smile for Life Dental strives to minimize discomfort and make all of our treatments as effective as possible. In order to meet these goals, we utilize state-of-the-art technology, including lasers, in many of our treatments. Laser gum treatment is an innovative and often very successful method for combating periodontal disease, repairing damaged or receding gumlines, or removing excess gum tissue (which can contribute to a “gummy smile”). With advanced laser-assisted periodontal care, we can help the gums maintain a strong seal with the teeth. Laser therapies are typically highly precise, can reduce bleeding and recovery time, and generally make gum disease treatment more comfortable for patients.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease

Is the treatment for gum disease painful?

Every effort will be made to minimize discomfort during treatment for periodontal disease. A local anesthetic can be utilized to ensure the treatment is not excessively uncomfortable. For those who are anxious about undergoing periodontal therapy, our dental team also offers several sedation dentistry methods—nitrous oxide, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation—that can help ease discomfort or anxiety during the procedure. If you are interested in incorporating sedation as a part of your gum disease treatment, we can discuss your options at your consultation after carefully reviewing your medical history.

Remember: leaving gum disease untreated can have lasting negative impacts on your oral and systemic health, potentially causing the need for more invasive procedures down the road. Furthermore, treatment is typically easier and more comfortable the earlier it is administered.

Can gum disease cause tooth loss?

When left untreated, gum disease can cause problems for the entire mouth—from the gums to the teeth to the jawbone. In fact, advanced periodontitis is a leading cause of tooth loss around the world. Over time, excess plaque and bacteria weaken the bone and connective tissues in the mouth. As a result, teeth often become loose and even fall out. Tooth loss is just one of the many risks associated with periodontitis, so it is essential to seek treatment for gum disease as early as possible.

How can I prevent gum disease?

Although most people develop some form of gum disease at some point in their lives, there are ways to reduce your risk and maintain good gum health over the long-term. Proper dental hygiene (including brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and using antibacterial mouthwash) should always be practiced to reduce plaque buildup and prevent harmful bacteria from accumulating in the mouth. In addition, you should have an experienced team on your side to perform regular cleanings and keep watch for early signs of disease.

Unfortunately, while gingivitis can typically be controlled under the care of qualified dentists and dental hygienists, more advanced stages of periodontal disease often signify permanent oral damage. For this reason, we advise you to consult a dentist as soon as you notice symptoms of gingivitis. That said, our team is well-versed in a range of advanced periodontal therapies and restorative dentistry procedures that can help rehabilitate your mouth and improve your oral health at any stage.

Would you like to learn more about our treatments for gum disease? Please contact us for more information, or to schedule an appointment. The experienced dentists and dental hygienists at Smile for Life Dental can talk with you about your concerns and help you renew and restore the health of your gums.