How can a dentist in your area help you to treat gum disease—and prevent a potential recurrence of periodontitis? Forty-six percent of American adults ages 30 and up have some signs of gum disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Take a look at what you need to know about this common issue, the in-office treatment options, and routine gum healthcare.
Should You Treat Minor Gum Issues?
Periodontal disease can result in serious dental problems, such as tooth or jaw bone loss. The first signs of gum disease include redness, swelling, and bleeding—especially when you brush your teeth or immediately after. Even though a bit of blood on your brush may not seem like a major issue, it's important to talk to your dentist about this symptom. The sooner you seek help for minor gum disease, the easier it is to stop the progression of periodontitis.
Why Should You Treat All Levels of Gum Disease?
If you let gum disease go, a minor issue could turn into a major infection. Your dentist can examine your gums, look for problems, and measure pockets. Periodontal pockets are gaps around teeth. These result from tissue erosion and can harbor potentially harmful bacteria. The larger the pocket, the more extensive the gum disease. If the pockets are shallow, the dentist can recommend a new or upgraded oral care routine to reduce the size of the gaps and reduce the risk of additional pocket growth.
What Types of Preventative Treatments Are Available?
Shallow pockets and minor gum disease typically won't require drastic or invasive treatments. Instead, the dentist may encourage you to pay more attention to or change your at-home oral care routine. This could include a new toothbrush, the addition of dental floss, extra brushing sessions, or a different brushing technique.
Along with at-home care, the dentist may recommend that you visit the office more than once or twice each year. Additional in-office cleanings can help to remove plaque buildup hidden between the teeth or at the gumline.
How Will the Family Dentist Treat Periodontitis?
While you will have to maintain a high level of at-home care, improving your brushing/flossing routine may not fully treat more severe forms of gum disease. Non-surgical in-office treatments include root planing (smoothing the root's surface) and scaling (removing tartar and bacterial buildup). The dentist may also prescribe antibiotics or a special mouthwash.
If these conservative measures don't work or you have advanced periodontal disease, you may need gum flap surgery to reduce the pocket size, a tissue graft, or a bone graft. When combined with proper oral care and regular dentist office visits, these options can help to restore your mouth's health.
Failure to treat gum disease could result in tooth loss. This may require a specialist or implant dentist to create a natural-looking restoration.