The long-lasting effects of gum disease can be devastating. If caught early, you may be able to restore your oral health to how it was before this extremely common disease attacked your mouth, but without proper intervention, you can lose your teeth, your health, and even your life. Advanced stage gum disease is a very serious disorder and needs to be treated like one. While we here at Myers Dental strongly believe that prevention is the best way to avoid lasting damage from gum disease, once it starts, we can help you treat gum disease effectively.
What Can I Do If I Have Gum Disease?
Not all types of gum disease are the same, and there are two primary types that exist. First, there is early-stage gum disease. This is also known as gingivitis. The second type of gum disease is advanced-stage gum disease, and it is also called periodontal disease or periodontitis. It is important to note that gum disease, while it has many different contributing causes such as genetics and medication, is most often caused by lifestyle — specifically, poor oral hygiene.
Gum disease is caused by bacteria, and certain foods (such as sugary foods and soft drinks) encourage these bacteria to grow and multiply. These bacteria form a layer of filmy residue that clings to your teeth, called plaque. If you do not take measures to remove plaque regularly, the toxic byproducts of the bacteria can start to erode at your dental enamel. Over time, not only can you start to develop tooth decay, but your gums can become infected. The early stage of gum disease is often painless, but symptoms of it include red and swollen gums, bad breath, receding gums, and blood in your saliva after you brush and floss your teeth.
Fortunately, gingivitis is entirely reversible when you start taking better care of your teeth. Make sure you brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Use fluoridated toothpaste and brush at a 45-degree angle to your gums. You need to brush for two minutes each time, both morning and evening. After you brush your teeth, make sure you floss. Start with an 18-inch section of floss and work a fresh piece between each tooth and up under the gumline to remove any trapped debris and plaque. Follow up with antibacterial mouthwash to improve the effectiveness of it.
Conversely, periodontitis has no known cure and must be managed like a chronic disease with periodontal disease maintenance treatment. Depending on how severe your periodontal disease is, we may advise various treatment options for you. One thing that is often quite beneficial is a procedure called scaling and root planing. This removes all of the calculus (tartar) from your teeth. It also includes smoothing down your tooth roots. Not only does this make it harder for the bacteria to grow in the future, but it also helps reduce the size of your gum pockets and allows them to reattach to your teeth. You will need to return to our office more frequently, every three to four months, to ensure that your periodontitis does not worsen. If your periodontitis is too severe, however, we may need to refer you out to an oral surgeon for gum graft surgery.
To learn more about treatment for periodontal disease, or to schedule an appointment with our office, please give us here at Myers Dental a call at (512) 506-9889 today!