Every year, gum disease destroys perfectly healthy teeth. Also known as periodontal disease, this attack on the gums by oral bacteria is extremely preventable. In addition to personal oral hygiene, patients need to regularly visit their Stockton dentist at the James Van Sicklen, Jr. DDS team for convenient and comfortable dental care to avoid gum disease.
If the gums have started to recede because of periodontitis, the following are potential consequences:
Gum disease should be cured immediately with the latest techniques in cleaning and medication. Read this section for more information on how the James Van Sicklen, Jr. DDS team treats periodontal problems.
Officially called periodontal disease, gum disease is usually found during your oral examination. Since early stages of the problem usually cause little or no pain, many patients ignore this inflammation of the gums. Nevertheless, it is a serious matter, potentially leading to loss of teeth! Additional studies indicate that unchecked gum disease may lead to a higher incidence of stroke, heart attack or premature birth. These studies show what dentists have long believed: oral health is connected to your overall health.
Periodontal disease is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar created by oral bacteria. If left unchecked, either by a lack of daily dental care, regular visits to your dentist, or both, tartar works its way beneath the gums. This irritates the tissue, leading to reddened and bleeding gums. If your gums bleed during flossing or brushing, this is not normal. You have some form of gum disease, either gingivitis or periodontitis.
At this stage, the pockets formed around the teeth by the gums are starting to expand due to inflammation of the tissues. With a tiny dental probe, your dentist carefully determines the size of the sulcus, or space, between each tooth and the gum tissue. Ideally, our dentists will find a depth of three millimeters or less. When the sulcus is greater than three millimeters, plaque has created space for irritation, infection, and further complications. Bone loss from the sockets has not yet begun.
When the disease has advanced to periodontitis, space between the teeth and gums is excessive, due to prolonged exposure to plaque and tartar. The gums bleed easily. Bone loss is present. Specialized treatment may be avoidable with prompt treatment of the problem.
Bone loss is moderate to severe at this stage. Gaps between the teeth and gums have allowed bacteria to work their way up to the socket and root. The root is loosened from the bone by the advancement of the disease. Left untreated, teeth will be lost. Laser treatments to reduce large periodontal pockets or oral gum surgery may be necessary.
If you are in the earliest stage, gingivitis, a higher frequency of ordinary dental cleanings may be sufficient. By removing tartar before it has a chance to work deep beneath the gums, and through vigilant home care, the gaps between gum and tooth can be lessened by the dentists at the James Van Sicklen, Jr. DDS team.
Periodontitis requires deeper cleaning to get at plaque and tartar that has lodged itself further beneath the gums than normal. With anesthetic this procedure will seem like a typical cleaning. Called dental scaling, this deep removal of tartar is aimed at preventing further bone loss and degradation of the root by removing the deep plaque created by bacteria. This treatment may be followed-up by the use of Perio Protect, a dental appliance that works much like a tooth whitening tray to administer medication to your gum pockets.
In severe cases of gum disease, laser surgery or oral surgery may be necessary to eliminate large pockets around the teeth and roots created by the bacterial infection. In addition, the James Van Sicklen, Jr. DDS team also offers the pinhole surgical technique (PST) for repairing gum recession caused by gum disease, aging and other factors. More information is provided on our PST page in this section.
Careful attention to twice daily brushing and a minimum routine of once daily flossing helps prevent the growth of tartar and plaque below the gums. Nevertheless, even the most attentive patient finds that some plaque escapes their hygiene efforts. If you are experiencing gum disease, our Stockton dentists usually recommend additional cleanings every year, typically increasing to four annually, to help you eliminate the problematic tartar that causes gingivitis. When your gums become healthy again, you return to a regular cleaning schedule.
Specially medicated rinses for dealing with tartar and an electric toothbrush, such as the Sonicare system, may be recommended.
The most important thing to remember is that gum disease will not go away by itself and requires treatment in a dental office. Safe, effective and nearly painless treatment now can prevent very serious complications in the future.