How to treat gum disease?
Many people think that tooth decay poses the biggest threat to our teeth, and whilst it most certainly is bad news for our oral health, there is something that is equally as detrimental to our dental wellbeing – gum disease.
Gum disease occurs when the sticky, colorless film called plaque that forms on our teeth isn’t brushed away regularly, causing the bacteria within it to spread onto the gum tissue. This causes inflammation, irritation, and soreness that characterizes the beginning of gum disease. The trouble is that gum disease is difficult to spot in the early stages. The symptoms are mild and easily overlooked, with even bleeding gums when you brush your teeth often being ignored. If gum disease is allowed to progress, it can cause much more severe symptoms and irreversible damage to your dental health. This includes severe pain, abscesses and eventually, tooth loss and deterioration of the jaw bone. Research has also found a definitive link between severe gum disease (called periodontal disease) and the development of chronic general health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.
Fortunately, if gum disease can be detected early on, it can be treated successfully before it has a detrimental effect on your oral and general health. Here’s what you need to know about treating gum disease.
How to treat gum disease at home
Great oral health starts at home, and there are a number of things you can do to reverse the early signs of gum disease. These include:
Improving your brushing. Ideally, you should brush at least twice a day for two minutes at a time. Set a timer if you aren’t sure if you are brushing for long enough.
Don’t forget to floss. Flossing can be tricky and a little time consuming if you aren’t practiced at it. However, it is vital for removing bacteria and food debris from between your teeth where it is difficult for a toothbrush to reach.
Use the right tools. Whilst any toothbrush can be effective, an electric toothbrush is generally considered to be able to give a superior clean since it rotates at a high number of oscillations per minute. Choose a toothbrush with a small head to give the best access, and softer bristles are better since they are less likely to cause damage to the enamel and gums. You should also choose a toothpaste and mouthwash that contain fluoride – an ingredient that helps remineralize teeth and protect against tooth decay.
Quit smoking. Studies have shown that people who smoke are considerably more likely to suffer from dental problems including gum disease.
Visit your dentist regularly. Regular professional cleans and check-ups can help to keep gum disease at bay.
Professional treatment for gum disease
Sometimes, gum disease is advanced enough to necessitate professional treatment by your dentist. Fortunately, there are also several ways in which your dentist can help deal with your condition.
Scaling and root planing
This is the most common in-office treatment for gum disease and is essentially a deep, thorough clean of your teeth using professional tools. Your dentist will remove plaque and tartar (calculus) from your teeth and will clean the periodontal pockets which are small gaps just below the gum line that develops alongside the teeth. Once clean, your dentist will use a special tool to smooth the root which will enable the gum to reattach to it, preventing further debris and bacteria from becoming trapped and causing your gum disease to worsen. In some instances, scaling and root planing may need to take place over several appointments.
If your gum disease is fairly severe, you may have noticed your gums starting to recede, pulling away from the teeth to make them look longer than usual. This can have a detrimental effect on the appearance of your smile, plus means that your teeth don’t have the support that they need to hold them in place, and this could contribute to them becoming loose. Gum grafting is the name of the process that involves rebuilding the gum line. To do this, healthy tissue is taken from another part of your mouth – usually, your palate – and is grafted onto the area where gum tissue has receded. Sometimes collagen fibers will be placed into the graft to help speed up tissue regeneration, which will see your gum line restored and your teeth fully supported.
If you are concerned about gum disease, don’t risk your oral health for a moment longer than necessary. Contact our team today to schedule an assessment of your teeth and gums.