Gum Disease: Effective Strategies for Restoring Oral Health

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Gum disease treatments may include surgical or non-surgical procedures depending on the severity of the disease. Also in treating gum disease, it is necessary to take the prescribed medicines and maintain good oral hygiene to prevent its recurrence.

Gum diseases like Gingivitis and Periodontitis are common, it affects 20 - 50 percent of the global population. Though the early stages of gum disease may not cause pain or inconvenience, it’s still advisable to get your teeth checked at least once or twice a year so that early stages of gum disease can be treated.

What is Gum Disease?

Before we jump on to the main part of this article, let us first have an overview of the definition, causes, and symptoms of gum disease.

There are 2 types of gum disease namely:

  1. Gingivitis - This condition is considered the early stage of Periodontitis which is less serious and can be treated with professional cleaning and good oral hygiene. Though symptoms are manageable, it’s still important to get it checked and treated before it progresses into Periodontitis.
  2. Periodontitis - This condition is more severe than Gingivitis and might need both non-surgical and surgical treatments. Also, compared to Gingivitis, symptoms of Periodontitis may cause discomfort and difficulty in chewing. This type of gum disease affects about 70 percent of Americans aged 65 years or older and about 47 percent of Americans aged 30 and above.

The Causes

Gum disease is due to plaque build-up on the teeth. Plaque consists of bacteria, and without proper oral hygiene, it may cause swelling and inflammation in the gums.

Over time, this plaque build-up will harden becoming tartar, which is a stubborn substance that can only be removed with a professional’s help. If tartar build-up is not treated immediately, it will later progress into severe gum disease.

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

It’s crucial to get your teeth checked by a professional if you experience the following signs of gum disease:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in teeth formation
  • Pain while chewing

Note: If you think you have gum disease, it’s important to get your mouth checked as soon as possible.

Treatments Available for Gum Disease

Before receiving treatment, your dentist may first do a thorough examination that includes:

  • Checking your medical history - Your doctor will determine factors that contribute to gum disease dry mouth caused by smoking, medications, and accidents that damage the formation of teeth.
  • Mouth examination - This includes checking for signs of tartar build-up, swelling, bleeding of the gums, and other symptoms of gum disease.
  • Dental X-rays - This is a good way to examine bone loss or receding gums and determine how severe the gum disease is.
  • Pocket depth measurement - This is done by using a dental probe to measure the pocket depth between your gums and teeth. People with gum disease have deeper pocket depths compared to people with healthy gums. The normal pocket depth is about 3 millimeters, while gums affected by periodontitis have a pocket depth of 4 millimeters.

After a thorough examination, your dentist will determine what type of treatment is needed based on the severity of the disease. Generally, it may include non-surgical and surgical treatments.

Non-surgical Treatments

Non-surgical treatments include:

  • Root planing - This procedure involves smoothening the root of the affected tooth by removing tartar and bacterial build-up. This is quite similar to scaling (another gum disease treatment), only it is done at the root of your teeth. Root planing helps discourage the further build-up of tartar and other bacteria in the mouth for easy healing.
  • Scaling - This refers to the removal of tartar build-up on your teeth and below the gums using a laser or an ultrasonic device.
  • Antibiotics - Certain antibiotics will be used to treat infection and reduce swelling in the gums. These antibiotics may be in the form of gel, mouthwash, or capsules. This is also beneficial for faster healing and recovery of the tissues affected by gingivitis or periodontitis.

Surgical Treatments

For severe cases of gum disease (Periodontitis), your dentist may also perform surgical treatments such as:

  • Bone grafting - Severe cases of periodontitis destroy the bones that surround your tooth root, and in time may result in tooth loss. With bone grafting, the lost bones are replaced by synthetic or donated bones to hold your tooth in place and prevent it from falling out.
  • Soft tissue grafts - Periodontitis also causes your gums to recede exposing the roots and increasing the risk of tooth loss. Soft tissue grafts include replacing the lost gums using similar skin from your palate (found just above your mouth) or from a donor. This will help hold your tooth in place, cover the exposed roots, and avoid further build-up of bacteria.
  • Guided tissue regeneration - This procedure allows the regrowth of bone that was lost because of periodontitis. It involves the placing of a biocompatible fabric on the affected tooth to avoid unwanted tissue hindering bone growth.
  • Flap surgery - Also called pocket reduction surgery. This involves making tiny incisions on your gum tissues to expose the deeper roots of the teeth. This is done to remove bacterial build-up and recontour the bones that were affected by periodontitis.
  • Tissue-stimulating proteins - This is another procedure that promotes the regrowth of lost tissues and bones due to periodontitis. In doing this surgery, your doctor applies a certain gel on the affected tooth root and gums. This gel contains the same proteins that stimulate tissue and bone regeneration.
Preventing Gum Disease

Preventing your mouth from any type of gum disease can help you save a lot of dollars and even avoid inconvenience. That’s why even if you are not diagnosed with gum disease, it’s crucial to get your mouth checked regularly and follow the gum disease prevention tips below.

  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles
  • Use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss daily
  • Thoroughly clean dentures
  • Quit smoking
  • Avoid or limit foods high in sugar
  • Stay hydrated
  • Get checked once or twice a year

All of us want to have strong, healthy teeth and gums. Not only does it improve one’s self-esteem, but it also prevents the occurrence of other diseases in the mouth. That’s why it’s important to practice good oral hygiene and treat gum disease while it’s still early. There are various gum disease treatments available nowadays. It may be non-surgical or surgical depending on the severity of the condition.

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