Healthy gums are vital to maintaining good dental health and a beautiful smile. At OC Lifesmiles we offer comprehensive periodontal care to improve and maintain the health of your gums. Whether you are affected by the early stages of gingivitis or more severe levels of gum disease (periodontitis), Dr. John Cross can utilize periodontal treatment techniques and advanced laser technology designed to provide an effective solution. During your cleaning and exam, he and his dental hygienists will evaluate your gums and gingival pockets to detect any problem areas or complications in need of treatment. When treatment is required, Dr. Cross will focus his efforts on removing plaque buildup, eliminating bacteria, and healing the gum tissue.
Learn more about gum disease and the importance of periodontal care by exploring the informative sections provided below:
- What is Periodontal Disease?
- Gum Disease Causes
- Stages of Periodontal Disease
- Benefits of Periodontal Care
- Periodontal Treatments and Procedures
- Results of Periodontal Care
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is an infection that develops in the gums surrounding the teeth. Without proper treatment, periodontal disease can cause serious damage to gum tissue, jawbone loss (which loosens teeth), and eventual tooth loss. The presence of this dangerous bacteria in the gum tissue and blood stream has also been linked to increased rates of severe systemic health consequences, such as heart disease, respiratory disease, diabetes, and stroke, among others.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease develops from harmful bacteria that live in dental plaque that typically builds up between teeth and within the gum pockets. Regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings help prevent dangerous amounts of plaque accumulation and keep the gum tissue healthy and strong. If proper dental hygiene is neglected and visits to the dentist are sparse, you can become more likely to develop plaque below the gumline. Certain medical conditions, genetics, hormonal fluctuations, and medications can also increase the likelihood of developing gum disease.
Once plaque takes up residence below the gumline, the bacteria that lives within it can irritate and inflame the gum tissue, creating redness, swelling, and bleeding, along with deepening gum pockets. In these pockets, bacteria can flourish, harming not only the soft tissue but the supportive structures of the teeth as well, which include vital ligaments and jawbone tissue. Without intervention from a dentist to remove plaque buildup, clean out the gum pockets, and treat infection, periodontal disease can progress to a point where jawbone recession becomes severe and teeth can fall out.
What Are the Different Stages of Periodontal Disease?
The process of developing periodontal disease and the advancement of the condition can be broken down into stages—gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis:
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. Signs of gingivitis include gum inflammation and tenderness, as well as bleeding during brushing, flossing, and/or dental cleanings. When gingivitis is detected, improving gum health may require some simple periodontal treatments, more frequent visits to the dentist, and/or improving at-home gum care efforts to reverse any damage and prevent the condition from worsening.
When periodontitis is diagnosed, pockets have formed below the gums, between the tissue and tooth. Treatments can be performed to remove plaque and bacteria and heal the pockets; however, any bone recession that has occurred cannot be reversed.
In the final stage of gum disease, bone recession and soft tissue damage is significant and teeth may become loosened and start shifting. Shifting teeth can become misaligned and, in extreme cases, the bite may become affected, which can cause a host of other functional and aesthetic dental problems. Eventually teeth may fall out due to a lack of support from damaged soft tissue and recessed bone.
When periodontal disease is diagnosed and detected in the earlier stages it is possible to prevent further advancement of the disease and tooth loss. If you are concerned about the health of your gums and are looking for an experienced dentist who can provide state-of-the-art periodontal treatments, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at OC Lifesmiles with Dr. Cross.
What Are the Benefits of Periodontal Care?
Comprehensive periodontal maintenance and care protects not only your gingival health, but also works to prevent tooth loss and reduce serious risks to your overall health as well. When allowed to flourish, the harmful bacteria responsible for gum disease can erode bone density and even enter your bloodstream, causing health issues in other areas of the body. Potential benefits of periodontal care include:
- Remove plaque buildup along the gumline, between teeth, and within the pockets surrounding the roots of each tooth
- Eliminate bacteria and infection from the gums
- Heal gingival pockets and reduce pocket depth
- Reduce gum pain, bleeding, inflammation, and/or redness
- Resolve persistent bad breath related to active disease
- Reduce the risk of heart disease and the spread of infection to other areas of the body
- Protect teeth and jawbone density
What Periodontal Treatments and Procedures Are Available?
Scaling and root planing, also called a deep cleaning, is typically the initial phase of therapy for any stage of periodontal disease. The procedure involves physically removing plaque, tartar, bacteria, and other buildup from the teeth and along the roots within the gingival pockets. Local anesthetic is used to numb the gums during the cleaning process to reduce any significant discomfort. Once scaling and planing is complete, Dr. Cross may recommend an antimicrobial rinse to attack any remaining bacteria. For patients with deep infected pockets, Arestin® – a time-released antibiotic – can be administered to affected areas to continuously fight bacteria for up to 21 days.
Depending on the unique circumstances of your condition, Dr. Cross may prefer to utilize a dental laser in phases of your periodontal treatment to more precisely remove bacteria and diseased tissue. The dental laser is an incredibly advanced tool that helps to protect surrounding healthy tissue from damage during treatment.
Whether you are treated with the laser or traditional dental instruments, once your treatment is complete, the gingival pockets will be allowed to heal. Ideally, the disease-free tissue will rebond with the tooth roots to reduce pocket depth. Dr. Cross will likely recommend that you come in more frequently for cleanings and checkups to note healing progress and keep plaque buildup and bacteria under control.
What Are the Results of Periodontal Care?
Timely, effective periodontal treatment can prevent both the development and progress of gum disease. Patients who undergo these therapies at our practice typically report a dramatic reduction in pain and a marked improvement in the appearance of their gums. For the best long-term results, patients are encouraged to keep up with proper daily dental hygiene (brushing and flossing) and attend regularly scheduled dental appointments.
Contact OC Lifesmiles
For more information about gum disease and the periodontal treatments we offer, we invite you to contact our office to connect with a member of our team.