Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue that supports and surrounds your teeth. Infected gums will move away from the bacteria which includes moving away from your teeth. This can be devastating to your oral health. Our team at Myers Dental can help, we can provide you the treatment to remove the infection and information to keep infection at bay in the future. Protect your oral health by protecting your gums.
Indications of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a very common dental disorder, but that does not make it any less problematic. Nearly 50% of adults suffer from some varying level of gum disease. Often, you can spot the symptoms, they include:
- Gums that are red or puffy: Take a look at your gums in the mirror, do you see a red line along the ridge of your gum tissue where it meets your teeth? Do your gum, in general, appear red, irritated or inflamed?
- Bleeding when you floss: Inflamed gums will bleed when you floss or brush, not necessarily a lot, just enough to be noted. Spit into the sink after you floss, are there signs of blood?
- Chronic bad breath or taste: Infected gums can leave a sour or bad taste in your mouth. Patients may feel that they always suffer from bad breath or report a sour taste.
- Loose teeth or changes in bite: Gum tissue recedes from the infection which also means that it recedes from your teeth. Teeth are set in the root but supported and strengthened by the gums. Without the gums to support them, teeth can become loose, shift and even fall out.
Gum Disease Diagnosis
At Myers Dental, we do a thorough dental examination on all our patients every six months. The gums are examined visually and with the use of an instrument called a periodontal probe. Our dental hygienist uses the probe to gently measure the pocket space between each tooth and gum. This space is called a periodontal pocket. Pocket size of three millimeters or less is a normal range. Dental x-rays may also be taken to check the bone that supports the teeth and to detect other problems not visible during a clinical examination.
Gum pockets that measure larger than three millimeters will require more in-depth cleaning to rid the area of bacteria.
The type of treatment depends on how far the periodontal disease has progressed. In mild cases, only a thorough cleaning is necessary followed by regular checkups and cleanings. If the disease has progressed and periodontal pockets greater than three millimeters are present with bleeding and swollen gums, the tooth roots may also need to be cleaned (planed) to smooth the root surface and remove any plaque or tartar deposits below the gum line. (See section on Scaling and Root Planing below). When deep pockets between teeth and gums are present (7 mm or greater), periodontal surgery may be necessary to restore dental health. We would then refer you to a periodontist, who specializes in treatment of gum disease. We have excellent referral relationships with the finest specialists in Austin.
Scaling and root planing is a special type of cleaning that removes the plaque and tartar below the gumline. This treatment is needed for moderate cases of periodontal disease. The procedure not only removes the bacteria from below the teeth but also helps control the growth of more bacteria and helps gums reattach firmly to teeth. Because this procedure goes deeper than a regular cleaning, your mouth will be numbed. The cleaning may take two to four or more visits to complete, depending on the severity of the periodontal disease. After the treatment, your mouth may feel sore or tender. Keep brushing with a soft toothbrush and flossing your teeth after every meal. You may rinse with warm salt water every few hours. Pain medication may be suggested if you need it, but most people find that it is not necessary.