Published: January 26, 2018
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of all American adults suffer from periodontitis, also known as gum disease. In fact, one out of every two American adults over the age of 30 suffers from gum disease. The percentage jumps to over 70% in adults over the age of 65. Most people suffer from gum disease and don’t even know it. If you suspect that you’re suffering from gum disease, seeking treatment from a dentist in Irving TX is a must. Though painless at first, this condition can cause tooth loss and other irreversible damage.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that impacts the gum tissue as well as the bone that supports the teeth. Gum disease is often caused by a build-up of plaque and other bacteria on the teeth and along the gum line. This can be caused by improper or a lack of brushing and flossing, as well as a lack of thorough cleanings by a dental professional. As plaque forms on the teeth, it hardens and turns into tartar. Excessive tartar, also called calculus, can only be removed by a dentist through a deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planning.
However, certain lifestyle choices are risk factors for the condition, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, chewing tobacco, excessive alcohol consumption, malnutrition, and high levels of stress. These conditions can worsen gum disease and make it harder to treat.
Signs & Symptoms of Gum Disease
Though early gum disease is often painless and free of symptoms, there are signs to be aware of. Common signs and symptoms include:
- Sensitive teeth to cold or hot
- Swollen, tender, or red gums
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Pus around the teeth or gums
- Bad taste in mouth
- Pain when chewing
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek dental treatment from a reputable dentist in Irving Texas. While these symptoms may be easy to ignore, not seeking treatment can cause damage to the connective tissue and bones that hold your teeth.
Stages of Gum Disease
There are three stages of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. At this stage, the infection is caused by plaque that has settled at the gum line. Even if you brush and floss daily, chances are that there is still some plaque left behind. Remaining plaque produces toxins that can cause gum tissue irritation. This, in turn, causes gingivitis. During the early stages of gum disease, bleeding during brushing and flossing is common. At this stage, gum disease is reversible since any damage has not moved to the connective tissue and bone.
The second stage of gum disease is periodontitis. At this stage, the fibers and supporting bone that keep your teeth in place are damaged. This type of damage is irreversible and cannot be reversed. Once periodontitis sets in, pockets form below the gum line. This allows food and plaque to become trapped, which can cause even more dental issues. With proper treatment at this stage, further damage can be prevented.
This final stage of gum disease, advanced periodontitis, is when the bone and fibers that support the teeth are destroyed. This can cause the teeth to become loose and shift. At this stage, you’re likely to notice changes in your bite. Tooth loss is a significant risk at this stage of gum disease.
How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
There are many tests that can be used to diagnose the condition that can then be used to determine the best treatment options for you. Dentists will first measure the gums using a periodontal probe to measure the depths of the pockets in the gum line. When healthy, gum line pockets should be between 1mm and 3mm deep. If the pockets are any deeper, gum disease may be present.
A dentist may also use x-rays to determine any bone loss. A close examination of sensitive teeth and the gums is also useful in pinpointing the condition.
Treatment for Gum Disease
One of the most advanced treatments for gum disease is the use of laser dentistry. Dental lasers have been used for decades to treat a variety of dental conditions. For gum disease treatment, the LANAP® protocol is widely used. This treatment involves sterilizing the infected gum tissue through the removal of bacteria that lies in and under the gum line. Traditional gum disease treatment requires incisions, which can leave patients in pain. With the LANAP® laser, treatment is virtually painless.
According to Millennium Dental Technologies, Inc., the kill rate of disease-producing germs with the LANAP protocol has been reported as high as 99.9%. This means that, after treatment, your teeth and gum line are virtually free of plaque and other infection-causing bacteria. While the laser kills bad bacteria, it also promotes the growth of stem cell tissue. In turn, this allows the gums and teeth to heal more quickly and regenerate any lost bone or connective tissue.
When undergoing laser treatment for gum disease, there are several steps that occur.
- The dentist uses a laser to remove inflamed gum tissue from around the tooth.
- Plaque and other bacteria are removed from around the root and below the gum line.
- The root is smoothed to reduce the risk of future plaque build-up.
After laser treatment, the gum and root will begin to heal. It’s important to maintain proper at-home dental care to ensure that infection doesn’t set into the gums again.
Benefits of Laser Treatment
The biggest benefit of laser treatment is that it is much less painful than traditional methods and is minimally invasive. There’s no use of scalpels, drills, sutures, or stitches. By using lasers as dental treatment, patients don’t have to face discomfort, pain, and a longer recovery time after undergoing treatment. In fact, most patients can return to their normal routine the next day.
- Other benefits include:
- No use of anesthesia
- Lasers are extremely accurate and precise
- Less bleeding
- Shortened healing time
For professional and effective gum disease treatment, it’s important to seek help from a local Irving, TX dentist. As with any dental treatment, there are risks to consider. Be sure to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your dentist.
Trusted Dentists in Irving, TX
No matter if you’re seeking treatment for gum disease or want to improve your smile via cosmetic dentistry, Smiles Las Colinas is the office for you. All of our dentists are members of the American Dental Association, which means that we use the most advanced dentistry techniques in the industry. We welcome new patients who are looking to improve their dental health. Ensure your smile is beautiful and healthy for years to come! Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.