What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection that develops in the gums due to bacteria produced by plaque. This is a film left behind on the teeth that eventually hardens into tartar. Once tartar accumulates, it harbors unwanted bacteria that attack the soft tissue around the gums.
Gum disease is one of the most common dental issues that goes unnoticed due to its early stages being painless. While this disease is common, it’s also preventable with regular visits to our Omaha or La Vista dental office combined with pristine at-home oral care.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Gum disease can easily progress, often without pain. It’s important to look out for the early signs of periodontal disease to avoid tooth loss and other dental problems. Common symptoms include:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Teeth shifting positions
- Receding gum line
- Spaces or gaps between teeth
- Permanent bad breath (halitosis)
- Tenderness or discomfort
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to visit our dental office right away. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Panneton by calling us at (402) 934-5200.
Causes of Periodontal Disease
There are both genetic and environmental factors involved in the development of gum disease. In any case, the risk of suffering from periodontal disease is significantly decreased by taking preventive measures.
Some of the most common reasons why gum disease occurs are:
- Poor Dental Hygiene: Visiting your dentist twice a year combined with good at-home care will preserve the natural dentition and supporting bone structures. Brush twice a day, floss daily, and use an antibacterial mouthwash for optimal oral hygiene.
- Tobacco Use: Research shows that smoking and tobacco use is one of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.
- Genetic Predisposition: Despite practicing pristine oral hygiene routines, as much as 30 percent of the population has a strong predisposition for gum disease. Genetic tests can determine susceptibility. Early intervention can also be performed to keep your oral health in good shape.
- Grinding Teeth: Clenching or grinding teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissues surrounding the teeth. When a patient is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to teeth grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.
Stages of Gum Disease
If left untreated, gum disease can advance into more severe stages and lead to serious health consequences. The common stages of gum disease include:
- Gingivitis: This is the first stage of gum disease where gums appear to be mildly inflamed and red in color. You may experience some bleeding while brushing and flossing. This can easily be reversed with our scaling and root planing treatment.
- Periodontitis: This stage occurs if gingivitis is left untreated. This will cause the gums to separate from the teeth and plaque will begin to harden and move closer to the tooth’s root, supporting fibers, and jawbone.
- Advanced Periodontitis: Completely ignoring gum disease will allow it to progress into its most severe stage. The supporting fibers and bone will be destroyed and teeth will become loose, and will most likely require extraction.
Our Periodontal Treatment Options
There are a variety of options when looking at treating periodontal disease, depending on how advanced the case has become. Before we decide on treatment, one of our dentists will perform a complete periodontal exam of the mouth.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is the most effective treatment option for patients suffering from mild to moderate gum disease. During this procedure, one of our dentists will remove hardened plaque and bacteria from under the gumline. We’ll also smooth out the tooth roots to prevent bacteria from settling into the freshly cleaned area.
Pocket Reduction Surgery
Pocket reduction surgery is used to reverse the effects of gum disease and restore your mouth to a healthy state. This procedure will allow us to visually view the damage, access the tooth root, and clean the infected area. In certain cases, we may have to suture the gum where the bone has resorbed.
When the bone and the gum tissue have been destroyed and compromised, regrowth can be actively encouraged using grafting procedures. A membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to assist in the tissue regeneration process.
Patients who have periodontitis often experience defects in the bone and around their teeth. To remove these defects, we can perform osseous (bone) surgery. This procedure is performed after a supplemental treatment, like scaling and root planing.
Osseous surgery reshapes the bone which holds your teeth in place. Depending on the severity of the case, the deformed bone may be removed, and the rest is shaped. Once the bones have returned to their original state, the gums are sutured.
Frequently Asked Questions
To prevent periodontal disease from developing, Dr. Panneton recommends:
- Brush your teeth twice a day
- Floss daily
- Rinse your mouth after every meal
- Schedule biannual visits for checkups and professional cleaning at Panneton Dental Group
Gum disease can be diagnosed at your regular dental visits, Dr. Panneton will probe your gums and see if the pockets have gotten deep. If Dr. Panneton noticed the gum pockets have progressed rapidly, we’ll inform you and provide you with treatment options.
You may feel some discomfort and swelling for a few weeks after a deep cleaning. Depending on the extent of the infection, it may take a while for the symptoms to go away.
In the meantime, you can take over-the-counter medications and cold compresses to help with the discomfort and pain. In addition to the post-care instructions, Dr. Panneton recommends rinsing your mouth with warm salt water to keep your mouth free from bacteria and heal your gums.