What is gum disease?
More than 75% of Americans over 30 will develop some form of gum disease at some point in their lives. However, with early detection and proper conservative treatment, almost all teeth can be saved.
Just as a sturdy home needs a firm foundation, so our teeth need solid support from the tissue that surrounds them. Any weakening of this supportive tissue is called perio (“around”)- dontal (“tooth”) disease.
Periodontal disease can be one of two types: gingivitis and periodontitis. The main difference between the two are that gingivitis involves only the gum tissue, and is reversible if treated promptly, while periodontitis includes destruction of bone tissue below the gum line. With proper treatment, however, it can be maintained.
What causes it?
Many factors can contribute to the development of periodontal disease, such as plaque, tartar, heredity, diet, systemic conditions, and oral hygiene habits. One of the goals of our non-surgical treatment is to determine which of these factors are most important in your mouth, and how to control their effects. Your gum treatment program will be specially customized to fit particular needs present in your mouth.
How do we treat it?
There are two ways to treat periodontal (gum) disease: surgically and non-surgically. A large majority of patients can be adequately treated non-surgically, if the disease is discovered and treated before it becomes too advanced. Because the only type of treatment performed at Timothy P. Sulken, D.D.S. is the non-surgical variety, the following information will deal exclusively with our approach to non-surgical periodontal treatment.
Your non-surgical gum treatment program will consist of two types of appointments: active therapy appointments and a recare appointment.
Active therapy appointments consist of measuring the gums to determine the extent of the disease, scaling and root planing of the teeth to promote healing, irrigation to fight unwanted bacteria, and home care instruction to equip you to restore and maintain health.
The recare appointment is an opportunity to measure the amount of improvement obtained, evaluate any problem areas that remain, and discuss the best possible options for maintaining periodontal health in the years to come.
Home Care is an indispensable facet of any successful gum treatment. Our non-surgical gum treatment program is truly a team effort. Our job is to get your teeth clean and free of harmful bacteria. Your job is to maintain that state of cleanliness as thoroughly as possible, and to allow us to periodically remove any plaque or calculus you miss, which will be accomplished at your recare appointments.
There are a wide variety of home care aids available to help you in cleaning your teeth. For you to attempt to use them all would be impractical. Therefore, as treatment progresses we will make specific recommendations concerning which home care aids should give you the best results. You will also receive instruction on proper ways to use these various devices.
Plaque is a white soft film consisting of bacteria and food particles which accumulates on the teeth near the gum line and in between the teeth. Proper brushing and flossing can keep plaque build-up to a minimum.
Tartar (calculus) is mineralized plaque. It cannot be removed by a toothbrush or floss, and normally requires the expertise of a dental hygienist for removal.
Pocket Depth is the small space in between each tooth and the gum tissue surrounding it. In a healthy mouth this space is usually 1-3 millimeters deep. In general, the deeper the pockets, the more advanced is the gum disease, and the harder it is to keep the teeth clean. A primary goal of our non-surgical gum treatment program is to shrink these pockets to a depth which can be more easily kept clean in the future.
Bone Loss causes loosening of the teeth which occurs in advanced periodontal disease and is a direct result of the loss of the bone tissue which surrounds the teeth. The best ways to diagnose the amount of bone that has been lost is through the use of x-rays and probing the pocket depths.
Root Planning is the cleaning and smoothing of the roots of the teeth. There are two major purposes for this procedure– to remove harmful plaque and calculus deposits, and to make the roots of your teeth smooth so that they will be easier to keep clean in the future.
Learn More About Gum Disease
Why Do My Gums Bleed?
After you brush and floss, do you notice areas of your gum that begin to bleed? This is a sign of gingivitis which is caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Once plaque mineralizes and becomes tartar, only a deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing, performed by your dentist can remove the tartar.
If gingivitis goes untreated, it can easily develop into gum disease. But besides gingivitis, what might be causing sensitive gums?
- Not flossing properly
- Brushing too aggressively
- Poor nutrition
If you do notice any area of your gums that begin to bleed, be sure to speak with your dentist to address the issue. Brushing and flossing is the best way to keep your mouth healthy.
If you notice your gums are bleeding, be sure to speak to your dentist or periodontist to address the issue and make sure any health problems are treated. Brushing and flossing twice per day is one of the best ways to remove plaque from your teeth. Your brush can only reach so much, so if you are not flossing you should make sure you begin as soon as possible.
If your gums bleed after you brush or floss, do not ignore it. Be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Sulken to talk about what can be done to treat this issue.
What Is Gum Recession?
Gum recession is when the tissue that surrounds a tooth begins to wear away, exposing more of your tooth and the root of the tooth. When your gums begin to recede it can cause pockets which allow food and bacteria to become trapped. When this occurs, the risk of severe gum disease increases.
WHAT CAUSES GUMS TO RECEDE?
The main reason your gums begin to recede is due to gum disease. Gum disease damages your gum tissue and the bone that hold your teeth in place.
Poor dental hygiene may be another reason you experience gum recession. Your gum tissue can begin to wear away if you are brushing too aggressively or using a hard bristle brush. If you are not brushing and flossing two times each day, bacteria can begin to build up between your teeth and around your gum line, causing gum disease.
Sometimes, things outside of your control can also cause your gums to recede. Things such as hormonal changes and genetics play a part in the chances of someone experiencing gum disease and gum recession.
If you grind or clench your teeth, a condition called “bruxism,” with enough force, this may be another cause of gum recession.
The good news is that gum recession can be treated. For less severe cases, a “deep cleaning” should be enough to remove the tartar build up and allow the gums to heal and reattach. If you have a more advanced form of gum recession, you may need to visit a periodontist; a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gums.
Practicing proper hygiene and visiting the dentist on a regular basis are the best ways to fight against gum recession. Your dentist will be able to notice if the health of your gums are in any trouble and can help treat the issue while it is still in the early stages.