Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease or pyorrhea, is a condition many otherwise healthy individuals may unknowingly have. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 50 percent of Americans over the age of 30 have some degree of gum disease. In adults over the age of 65, the occurrence increases to slightly more than 70 percent. So although you may be in crowded company if you have gum disease—gingivitis, periodontitis or advanced periodontitis—treating this bacterial infection is important for your oral health as well as your overall health.
Bleeding gums that are red and swollen are often the first, and only, indication that periodontal disease is present. At this early stage, the effects of gum disease may be reversible with stringent oral hygiene care at home. Never under-estimate the value of twice daily brushing and flossing at least once a day. When you brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste you remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. Likewise, flossing gets rid of plaque buildup in between your teeth.
What’s so important about removing plaque? Living in plaque are the bacteria that initiate tooth decay and gum disease. In the case of gum disease, plaque likes to settle along the gum line. Here, the bacteria feed on food particles and excrete toxins. These toxins are the culprits that can destroy gum tissue as well as the underlying bone structure that supports your teeth.
Left untreated, the condition only worsens and may ultimately result in tooth loss, gum deterioration, and more. In addition, the bacteria that cause this gum tissue infection can spread throughout the body and increase your risk of a number of bodily illnesses and diseases. Called the oral-systemic connection, dentists and doctors now recognize the link between the health of your gums and your overall health. Diseases such as heart disease, pulmonary infections, gastric ulcer re-infection, diabetes, depression and pre-term, and low birth weight infants are only some of the conditions that have been linked to periodontal disease.
Scaling and root planing are two parts of an in-depth cleaning that specifically targets the harmful bacteria causing gum disease. First, one of our talented hygienists will eliminate plaque and hardened tartar from around and below the gum line with special instruments. Once this step is complete, they move to the tooth roots, smoothing their surfaces at a gradual pace. This makes them less receptive to clinging bacteria and helps reduce the risk of further inflammation.
With soft tissue laser technology, treating gum disease has never been more comfortable! This focused beam can eliminate dangerous bacteria and remove infected portions of tissue while leaving healthy areas safely intact. Additionally, the instant sterilization it provides will keep any bleeding, swelling, or other uncomfortable symptoms to an absolute minimum. Many of our patients don’t even require local anesthetic because they already feel so at ease in the dental chair.
In order to help patients better maintain their renewed periodontal health, our dentists will recommend the application of a topical antibiotic. This medication is applied directly to the gum tissue so that it can continue fighting off infection for days and even weeks following your initial cleaning. By eliminating dangerous bacteria to an even more comprehensive degree, antibiotic therapy can even help reduce the size of a patient’s deep periodontal pockets over time.
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