Understanding & Arresting Gum Disease
Up to 80 percent of the population unknowingly may have some form of gum disease. Characterized by a chronic bacterial infection on the roots and gums of teeth, gum disease causes little discomfort and produces few obvious symptoms in the early stages. Periodontal disease is really a biofilm disease, meaning it is a complex, three-dimensional community of bacteria that are essentially impossible to kill with systemic antibiotics. When periodontal disease is left untreated destruction of supporting bone around teeth results, and ultimately may lead to tooth loss. Treating periodontal disease is not just about having a healthy mouth. Many studies show an association between periodontal disease and other chronic inflammatory problems like, heart disease, stroke, uncontrolled diabetes and pregnancy complications.
Who is at risk?
Some of the following conditions may increase the risk of gum disease: smoking, hormone fluctuations, stress, some medications, diabetes, poor nutrition, HIV, diseases affecting immunosuppression, family history, and poor oral hygiene. Even patients who practice good oral homecare can get gum disease. Gums irritated by bacteria can recede from the teeth, creating deep pockets where more bacteria can hide and flourish.
Treating Gum Disease
Early on, when redness, swelling, and bleeding are the only symptoms, we can treat and reverse gum disease non-surgically. Regular check ups greatly increase your potential for early detection and conservative treatment. Generally, treatment will include careful, individualized instruction regarding the most effective means of brushing and flossing at home. This strategy is sometimes accompanied by professional scaling, gum pocket irrigation, and even local antibiotic placement in areas of significant irritation. Most patients experience improvement after treatment. If, however, conditions don’t improve significantly, you may require surgical treatment.