Gum Disease & Periodontal Therapy
What Causes Gum Disease?
Our mouths provide a home to millions of bacteria, both beneficial and harmful. Unfortunately, bacteria form a sticky substance, plaque, which adheres to the teeth. However, brushing and flossing aim at removing plaque before it mineralizes into tartar. This is so because tartar becomes a colony for more bacteria and adds to their population, pumping out toxins into the gums.
Gums react to this bacterial invasion with an inflammatory response under the direction of the immune system. Around the base of each tooth, a small collar of gum tissue exists that forms a small crevice or pocket. This warm, dark environment provides a perfect habitat for deeper tartar and bacterial penetration, with their toxins seeping into the base of the collar.
Early inflammation results in bleeding gums, known as gingivitis. Bacteria left untreated and undisturbed successfully create a chronic infection in the gum collar. In many cases, the bone begins to deteriorate around the teeth as the bacteria burrow deeper into the gums. While gums may be slightly tender at this stage, there’s generally minimal discomfort as the bone dissolves.
More than 50% of the bone around your teeth can disappear before any signs of looseness or pain begin to appear. The bone around teeth never regenerates, so this loss becomes permanent and harder to control as the bacteria hide deeper into the gums. Untreated gum disease leads to abscesses and generalized tooth loss in many advanced cases. That’s why it’s essential to discuss gum disease and periodontal therapy with your Aberdeen NJ Dentist, Friendly Dental.
Managing Gum Disease
Soft Tissue Management has been utilized since the 1980s at Friendly Dental to conservatively treat most periodontal disease without surgery. Mostly this is done with non-surgical treatments such as scaling and root planing combined with lasers and/or antibiotics. In this procedure, an ultrasonic cleaning device and specialized hand instruments are used to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth where regular cleaning devices can’t reach: under the gum line, on the tooth, and around the root. Then, the rough surface of the tooth and the root are smoothed out. This provides a healthy, clean surface that makes it easier for the gum tissue to reattach to the tooth.
If the inflammation has advanced with measurable bone loss, a proactive approach halting the destruction should be strongly considered. Often we will suggest gentle numbing of your gums for your comfort during the deeper cleaning process. One area at a time undergoes meticulous cleaning above and below the gum line, usually over several visits. The infected collar or pocket around each tooth, including the mineralized tartar, must be carefully cleaned out with hand and ultrasonic instruments. Polishing of the teeth to establish glassy surfaces that help repel stain and plaque accumulation usually finishes this initial therapy.
Dr. Gomez & Dr. Homsi may suggest a medicated rinse, an electric toothbrush, a Waterpik, or other specific strategies to help you with your ongoing efforts. Remember, gum disease can be controlled but not cured. Dedicated daily efforts must be consistent to control the disease.
The Mouth-Body Connection
Current research continues to establish clear links between bacterial disease in your mouth and ailments in other parts of the body. Studies show a link between oral bacteria and conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and certain types of cancers. The integration of oral and general health has never been better understood than it is currently.
Bleeding gums provide a direct pathway into the bloodstream, a journey that toxic oral bacteria can quickly take. In fact, if bleeding gums connected into one single patch, it would create a 2 x 2-inch square. If an open wound of this size existed on your skin, infection would be a concern. Bleeding, infected gums offer this open door to your body and sit saturated in colonies of bacteria. This helps explain why researchers continue to identify oral bacteria deposits in various areas of our bodies.
Diabetes and other auto-immune disorders lower the body’s ability to fight infection, allowing uncontrolled gum disease to advance faster and with more destruction. Research also confirms that the inflammation in the mouth can aggravate diabetes, making it harder to control. This two-way relationship between two chronic conditions emphasizes the importance of optimal oral health.
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