Gum disease affects millions of people every year, and even more will experience the symptoms of gingivitis, the precursor to gum disease. Reddened gums, tooth pain, and bleeding gums when flossing or brushing are all signs that the gums are less than healthy.
Gum disease (medically referred to as periodontal disease) in particular is the progression of an oral bacterial infection that, if left untreated, starts to cause increasing tooth pain, receding gums lines, the deterioration of tooth enamel, and even tooth or bone loss.
The diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gingivitis and gum disease are just part of Monarch Dental’s comprehensive offerings of dental services. Gum disease is largely preventable with good oral hygiene and routine dental cleanings and checkups, but there are occasions when gum disease develops despite your best efforts and professional treatment is required. Schedule an appointment today with Monarch Dental and find out how we can help keep your gums happy and healthy.
How can you prevent the progression of gum disease?
At almost every stage of gum disease, there is an opportunity for intervention that can help halt or reverse its progression. This means that even if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gingivitis or gum disease, there is a good chance you or your dentist can do something about it before it begins to affect your oral health.
There are several simple things you can do to keep symptoms like swollen or bleeding gums from becoming a bigger problem.
- Brush your teeth daily to remove plaque and prevent the spread of gum disease-causing bacteria in your mouth.
- Floss your teeth daily, getting in between all of your teeth and down between the gum tissue and the tooth.
- Rinse your mouth twice a day with an antiseptic mouthwash to kill an infection-causing bacteria.
- Schedule a dental cleaning as soon as possible. You should have a dental cleaning and checkup at least every six months, but if it’s been longer, that’s ok; just make sure to get in as soon as you can.
What is the process of gum disease?
Gum disease progresses through four distinct phases, each characterized by their own symptoms, treatments, and preventative measures.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and is the most commonly experienced. It begins with bacteria settling along the gums and between and under the teeth, typically only affecting the soft tissues of the mouth. Gingivitis is reversible.
- Gingivitis can cause: plaque and tooth discoloration; persistent bad breath
- Symptoms include: gum sensitivity, gum redness, and occasional pain
- Can develop into: tartar, infection, and periodontitis
Treated with: improved dental hygiene
Stage 2 of gum disease is early periodontitis, which is not highly distinguishable from gingivitis and shares many of the symptoms and characteristics. Gingivitis is classified as periodontitis when the infection has started to compromise the bone supporting the teeth.
- Symptoms include: periodontal pockets up to 4-6 mm deep; gums separating from the teeth; subgingival accumulation of plaque and tartar
- Can develop into: moderate periodontitis, slight bone loss
- Treatment includes: tooth scaling and root planing (often referred to as dental deep cleaning) and improved oral hygiene
Moderate periodontitis–Stage 3 of gum disease–is identified by severely infected oral tissues and teeth that are loosening in their sockets. At this point, surgical treatment can stop progress of the disease, but it cannot reverse the damage.
- Symptoms include: gum recession; root surface exposure and root decay; pocket depth of 6-7 mm
- Can develop into: periodontal abscesses, loose teeth, advanced periodontitis
- Treatment includes: surgical procedures like pocket depth reduction/flap surgery or guided tissue regeneration
Loosening teeth, tooth loss, and severe infection characterize advanced periodontitis, the 4th and most advanced stage of gum disease.
- Symptoms include: pocket depth over 7mm, spontaneous bleeding in the gums, periodontal abscesses, more than 50% bone loss
- Can develop into: loss of all teeth and deterioration of jawbone, infection that spreads to other parts of the body
- Treatment includes: dental implants, gum or bone grafts
What are the causes of gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection in the mouth, and certain factors can put you at a higher risk for developing an infection like this, especially if you:
- Smoke or chew tobacco
- Are pregnant, menstruating, or in menopause
- Are 65 years of age or older
- Have poor oral hygiene
- Have not visited a dentist for a cleaning and checkup within the last year
- Take certain medications, especially those that cause dry mouth or suppress your immune system
What are the surgical treatments for gum disease?
Once bacteria and tartar have had time to develop, settle, and cause health issues in your mouth, sometimes the only treatment option is an intensive or surgical procedure. These procedures range from deep cleaning to reverse receding gums and tartar buildup to surgical procedures needing skin grafts.
Here are some of the procedures that your dentist may recommend to treat advanced symptoms of periodontitis:
- Flap surgery: This procedure involves the dentist or periodontist (a dentist who specializes in treating gum disease) lifting the gums from the teeth and cleaning out any tartar, bacteria, and infected tissue. Once the gums and the tooth are cleaned thoroughly, the surgeon will sew the gums back into place around the teeth to heal.
- Bone grafting: If a tooth has deteriorated substantially as a result of gum disease, the tooth may need a bone graft. The new bone for the graft can come from another part of your body, a donor or fabricated bone material. The goal of the surgery is to stabilize the deteriorated tooth after it has been thoroughly cleaned, allowing it to heal and grow healthily during the healing process.
- Tissue regeneration: The process of removing healthy oral tissue from one part of your body and placing it over an area that has seen oral tissue decay from gum disease is called tissue regeneration. This process can help the oral tissue and bone in your mouth regrow at a healthy rate during the healing process following a deep cleaning.
How much does gum disease treatment cost?
The cost to treat your gum disease will be heavily dependent on the stage of the disease you are in. Early stages, like gingivitis and early periodontitis, are relatively easy and inexpensive to treat. However, severe tooth decay, bone and tissue loss, and wide-spread infection can be much more difficult to treat, requiring time- and skill-intensive procedures by a specialist.
The most affordable way to treat gum disease is to catch it early, but, at Monarch Dental, we know that’s not always possible. You should never have to avoid gum disease treatment because of cost, no matter how severe your condition is, so we work hard to make getting the care you need easy and affordable. We accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit, and we offer a range of payment plans and options to help ease your financial burden. Uninsured patients can also take advantage of our OneSmile Dental Plan, which provides free exams and x-rays as well as discounts on all of our dental services.
Protect Yourself from Gum Disease with Monarch Dental
Gum disease is preventable, and treating it as soon as possible can help protect your health and avoid costly procedures in the future. Simple things like routine cleanings, x-rays, and exams from Monarch Dental can go a long way toward preventing gum disease and preserving your quality of life. If you do develop more severe symptoms of gum disease, Monarch Dental can also help with periodontal and oral surgery treatment options, all in the same convenient location.
Don’t let gum disease destroy your health. Find the Monarch Dental location nearest you and schedule an appointment today.