Did you know that gum disease, otherwise known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, is the leading cause for tooth loss in adults? Yet for most people, their gums get far less attention than cavities. Here at Dr. Larsen's office, we’re hoping to change that. Through therapeutic and non-surgical gum disease treatments, we aim to help our patients preserve their natural teeth for life.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. It occurs when plaque biofilm collect along the gumlines and your body attacks it with inflammation or mild bleeding. But when this infection isn’t addressed, your body begins to attack it. Plaque calcifies under the gums along the roots of your teeth, and your immune system sees the foreign body as something that’s dangerous. Slowly, the gums begin to detach. You’ll likely start to develop symptoms such as:
During your exam we will take careful measurements of the “pockets” around your teeth. This shows us where the tissues are attached in comparison to the tooth, as a healthy pocket is only 1-3 millimeters deep. Anything deeper indicates active disease where the tissues have detached.
We may also need to take x-rays to evaluate the bone levels around your teeth. In some cases, treatments need to help rebuild bone, so that the structure around the tooth doesn’t completely fail.
If it’s been years since your last dental checkup and you haven’t been very good about your home care, you may need a deep cleaning to help you get things back on track.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself, “How can I treat gum disease if I have it?” The answer is more than just brushing and flossing. After all, those deep pockets around your teeth need more intensive therapy to clean out before the gums can potentially reattach to your teeth. Because bone can’t grow back, it’s essential to start treatment as soon as the disease is diagnosed.
We usually recommend a non-surgical periodontal scaling and root planning, or “deep cleaning” process.
The deep cleaning goes beyond a traditional “preventive” cleaning that most people have every six months. During this visit, we will carefully numb the gums and clean deep below the tissues with special instruments. Once the surfaces of the teeth are entirely cleaned, we’ll continue to see you every 3-4 months to monitor for improvement. The more committed you are to your oral hygiene routine at home, the better you’ll respond to treatment.
In some situations, we may also need to prescribe a certain type of medication, place small antibiotic capsules under the gums, or even recommend a gingival graft. We will do everything possible for you to maintain your natural teeth for life. Ultimately, it’s our goal to get you back to the point to where you’re only seeing us every six months for a preventive care appointment.
We know how serious periodontitis can be. After all, it’s directly linked with multiple health conditions and risk factors that can impact your overall wellness. That’s why we believe in treating symptoms earlier, when they’re easier to reverse or halt. We’re not just saving your smile; we’re also helping you save your life!
Bacteria under your gums trigger an immune response that leads to inflammation and tissue detachment. Gradually, these infectious biofilm seep into your cardiovascular system, further straining your immune system. They can even collect within the linings of your blood vessels, heart, and brain. Scientific research shows a direct correlation with active gum disease and health problems like:
Eliminating gum disease from inside of your mouth helps to boost your immunity and reduce the strain that these bacteria have on your body. As such, it becomes easier to address and manage other underlying health concerns. Scientific studies continue to show that addressing oral biofilm levels has a positive correlation with being able to treat other medical problems more effectively and with greater success.
Did you know that crowded or misaligned teeth can make you more susceptible to developing periodontal disease? These areas are harder to clean and generally more challenging to keep healthy. When that’s the case, it may be beneficial to invest in tooth alignment therapies such as Invisalign to bring your teeth into a straighter position. Not only does this enhance their function and appearance, it makes it easier to control and eliminate active gum infections. Combining invisible braces with your periodontal therapy may be an ideal approach to tackling your gum disease.
If you’re considering treatments like cosmetic veneers or dental implants, you’ll need to have a healthy “foundation” for your smile before we can treat your teeth. Our periodontal team will help you address gum disease so that you can move on to other oral health or aesthetic concerns that may be a priority for you.
Sometimes, untreated gum disease becomes so severe that it has reached advanced stages before someone seeks help for their condition. If teeth are severely mobile, depressible, or bone loss is severe, it may be best to remove the tooth completely, wait for the area to heal, and then replace it with an implant or bridge.
If you’re experiencing ongoing symptoms of periodontitis or have gums that are always irritated, it’s best to schedule an exam in the near future. Call us today to book a visit. We’re happy to answer any questions that you have.
© Dr. Steven Larsen D.D.S | Pullman, WA