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Why is gum health so important?

  • Healthy gums are pink, firm and don't bleed as easily.

Many people fail to recognize how important your gum health is to the well-being of your oral health. Our gums are every bit as important as our teeth are. After all, its our gums that supports our teeth and keeps them in place. Neglecting your gum health leads to gum disease known as gingivitis and periodontitis. Gum disease can occur in adults regardless of your age. If left untreated, gum disease causes your teeth to become sensitive, loose, and eventually leads to tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss among the adult population.

What are the signs and symptoms of gum disease?

dental-cleaning-periodontal-evaluation
Advanced peridontitis has been linked to heart conditions and other serious medical issues

Gum disease is categorized based on the extent of damage to your gums and jawbone. Early-stage gum disease is known as gingivitis and late-stage gum disease is known as periodontitis. Here are the signs and symptoms of different stages of gum disease:

Signs of gingivitis

During gingivitis your gum disease is restricted to the gum tissue. At this point, the infection is relatively contained as it has not spread to your jawbone as of yet. Signs of gingivitis include bleeding gums, bad breath, and generalized tooth sensitivity.

Signs of periodontitis

Periodontitis occurs when your gum disease spreads from your gums to your jawbone. Periodontitis is a serious oral condition. It causes bone loss, looseness of your teeth, teeth separation, and eventually leads to tooth loss. Peridontitis is an infection of your jawbone, and if left untreated, it can spread through the bloodstream and sinuses to the rest of your body. Untreated periodontitis can compromise your overall health and it has been linked to heart conditions and other systemic medical issues.

How do you diagnose gum disease?

Only your dentist can help you diagnose and treat your gum disease. Your dentist starts off by examining your X-rays to look for symptoms of bone loss and tartar buildup. Next, he or she will perform a visual exam to look for areas of redness, inflammation, and gum recession. Definitive diagnosis of gum disease requires a full periodontal gum evaluation. This includes measuring your periodontal pockets, checking for gum recession and tooth mobility. Only after completing a full periodontal exam can your dentist determine what stage of gum disease you suffer from. Once you establish which stage of gum disease you suffer from, you can start planning a treatment outline and determine how frequently you require dental cleanings to maintain healthy gums.

What are the treatment options for gum disease?

  • dental-cleaning-simple-cleaning
    If you have healthy teeth and gums, you only require a simple cleaning.

Treating gum disease starts off with a comprehensive and thorough dental cleaning. A full periodontal gum evaluation is required to determine the best type of dental cleaning for your condition. Dental cleanings are typically categorized as regular dental cleaning, full mouth debridement, and deep cleaning. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of dental cleaning:

Regular dental cleaning

You require a regular dental cleaning in absence of gum disease. Regular dental cleanings are relatively simple and treatment is completed during a single session. Regular dental cleaning usually lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and you will be scheduled for another cleaning in 6 months.

Full Mouth Debridement

If you’re suffering from ginigivitis, but not periodontitis, then you require a more comprehensive dental cleaning known as full mouth debridement. Full mouth debridement involves light scaling of your teeth roots to remove tartar and offending bacteria. Occasionally, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, oral rinses, or other adjunct treatments to eliminate the offending bacteria. Full mouth debridement is typically performed during a 45 to 60 minute appointment and requires a followup dental cleaning every 4 to 6 months.

Deep cleaning/Scaling & root planning

If you suffer from advanced gum disease, known as periodontitis, then you require a deep cleaning. Only a deep cleaning, also referred to as scaling and root planning, can effectively remove tartar and restore your gum health. A deep cleaning involves rigorous scaling of your teeth along with planning of the teeth roots. The objective of a deep cleaning is to remove all tartar and offending bacteria from your teeth and root surfaces. Deep cleaning take about an hour and they are usually performed over 2 to 4 appointments. Most patients who receive a deep cleaning require a followup dental cleaning within 3 to 4 months. It’s not recommended to wait 6 months, as you can incur additional harm to your teeth and gums during this time.

What is a deep cleaning?

Deep cleaning is a rigorous dental cleaning that removes heavy tartar deposits from your teeth and gums. Most deep cleaning procedures are completed during two to four sessions. This allows the dentist or hygienist to focus on thoroughly cleaning a small portion of your mouth each time for best results. Most deep cleaning procedures are performed under anesthesia to minimize pain and discomfort.

Deep cleanings are typically performed using a cavitron or hand instruments. Cavitron is an ultrasonic device that uses vibration to loosen and dislodge plaque and tartar from your teeth. Hand instruments are sharp metal objects that manually scrape the tartar from your teeth. It’s not uncommon for your dentist to recommend using antibiotics, oral irrigation, or even laser to achieve a better final outcome.

After finishing your deep cleaning, your dentist or hygienist will recommend a follow-up appointment. Follow-up appointments are usually scheduled in a few months. Your dentist will evaluate your gums to look for signs of improvement. Depending on how things look, they will determine if your gum disease is under control or if additional work is needed. If your gum disease has failed to resolve itself, more advanced treatment may be recommended. This could involve treatments such as osseous gum surgery, laser debridement, and other complex periodontal therapy options. You may also be referred to a periodontist, a gum specialist, for further evaluation.

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