Gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is a condition that attacks the tissues supporting the teeth and often progresses silently. It develops below the surface of the gums, affecting the area where the teeth meet the jaw.
In its early stages, disease of the gums only affecting the soft tissue is known as gingivitis. As it progresses and begins to affect the bones supporting the teeth, it becomes an advanced form of disease known as periodontitis. Just like arthritis, this condition only affects the supports of teeth where it cannot be seen. Because the supported teeth continue to look healthy, gum disease can go on progressing for years with no visible signs or symptoms. But if left untreated, this silent predator can eventually cause permanent loss of teeth.
One of the saddest things about advanced periodontitis is that it could have been prevented with regular visits to the dentist for professional cleanings. But there are times when periodontal disease takes effect beyond the scope of a regular cleaning. For those patients whose gums have been affected so greatly by this condition that treatment is required, we offer some options.
Deep cleaning. The dentist can perform a deep cleaning or “scaling” of the gums to remove excess build-up of tartar and debris. Typically scheduled over a period of multiple visits, this procedure can be involved and an anesthetic may be required.
Medication. In some cases tetracycline may help reduce the production of microbial bacteria below the surface of the gums and slow down bone loss. A special mouth rinse may also be prescribed during treatment.
Change of habit. Following treatment extra care will be required to maintain healthy gums. This would include good brushing habits and daily flossing. The dentist may also recommend more frequent visits and cleanings to continue down the path of tooth retention.
Signs of Gum Disease
Even if your teeth are straight, free of cavities, and white in color, you could be experiencing the early stages of periodontitis if you have been skipping regular dental cleanings. These are some signs to watch for that indicate disease of the gums.
- Gums that bleed easily
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Looseness or separating of permanent teeth
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Changes in the fit of partial dentures
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms of gum disease and you would like to meet with Dr. Srinivasan to check on the health of your gums or discuss treatment options, please call our office to make an appointment.