Healthy Gums are the Foundation for a Healthy Smile
As a Columbia, MD family and cosmetic dentist, Dr. Ray Becker emphasizes the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene, regular professional cleanings, and oral examinations, in an effort to keep the natural teeth for life.
Gum disease, which is a bacterial infection, threatens the gums and bone tissue, which support healthy teeth. In most cases, patients do not realize they have gum disease, especially if they smoke (nicotine reduces blood supply preventing bleeding and swelling of the gum tissues).
Routine preventive dental care enables Dr. Becker to look for early signs of gum disease. Dr. Becker will use advanced dental care technology in his Columbia, Maryland office to examine, diagnose, and treat your gum disease. When treated early, conservative measures are often successful and can prevent the development of more complex dental problems down the road.
About Gum Disease
Gum disease affects more than 75% of adults at some point in their lives and has actually been linked to more serious conditions, such as cardio-vascular disease (CVD), diabetes, and preterm births. Research has suggested two plausible mechanisms for how gum disease and these other serious medical concerns could be related.
Moderate to severe periodontal disease increases the level of systemic (bodily) inflammation — a characteristic of all chronic inflammatory diseases.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease, along with dental caries (cavities), is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. More than three-quarters of adults are affected by gum disease, which is mostly caused by bacterial plaque build-up.
Other contributing factors to periodontal disease may include teeth grinding, TMJ dysfunction, tobacco use, hormonal changes (as in pregnancy or menopause), and poor nutrition. It is crucial to seek treatment for gum disease at our Columbia, MD dentist office as soon as you see signs of periodontal disease.
Stages of Gum Disease
There are two key stages of gum disease, each of which can have a progression of symptoms. Typically, patients do not realize they have gum disease until the later stages when damage to the gums affects the teeth or gums become significantly irritated. This is why it’s crucial to have Dr. Becker perform a thorough exam for gum disease in his Columbia, MD dentist office.
Gingivitis: An early-stage gum disease, gingivitis is typically easy to treat but may require additional at-home care to prevent it from returning. Patients with recurring gingivitis may benefit from more frequent dental cleanings in our dentist office.
Periodontitis: An advanced gum disease, periodontitis can cause permanent damage to the gum tissue and weaken the teeth. This often requires intensive treatment to address damage and restore oral health.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Irritated, red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth or changes in your bite
- Persistent bad breath
- Mouth sores or pus between gums and teeth
- Bad breath, or halitosis
- Changes in the fit of dentures
Periodontal Therapy Treatment for Gum Disease
Periodontal therapy treatments include both surgical and non-surgical techniques to restore health to the tissues that support the teeth (gums and bone) and prevent tooth loss. Dr. Becker will perform a thorough evaluation of your oral health and recommend the most effective treatment based on the severity of gum disease.
Dr. Becker has incorporated the use of dental lasers for the treatment of gum disease, providing more accurate results with less bleeding, swelling, and downtime.
Scaling and Root Planing: A deep-cleaning technique often recommended for early-stage gum disease known as gingivitis. Plaque and calculus (tartar) are removed from beneath the gum tissues, using hand scalers and/or ultrasonic instruments.
Gum Grafting: The surgical replacement of areas where gum tissue has been lost or receded to ensure tooth roots are adequately protected.
Periodontal Plastic Surgery: Any reshaping procedure that creates a more pleasing appearance of the gum tissues.
Periodontal Laser Treatment: The removal of diseased gum tissue with lasers, offering significant advantages over conventional surgery, such as less discomfort and gum shrinkage.
Crown Lengthening Surgery: A surgical procedure in which tooth structure that is covered by gum and bone tissue may need to be exposed either for cosmetic reasons (to make the teeth look longer and the smile less gummy) or to aid in securing a new dental crown.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to brush and floss your teeth effectively every day. This doesn’t mean scrubbing, which can actually cause your gums to recede.
Regular dental checkups and professional cleanings every 3 or 4 or 6 months are also an important part of maintaining periodontal health; the instruments and techniques used in these cleanings can reach into areas that your toothbrush and floss can’t.
It is also possible to detect early forms of gum disease by evaluating your gingival (gum) tissues, both visually and by examining their attachment levels to the teeth. And the health of your tooth-supporting bone can be assessed by taking dental radiographs (x-rays pictures).
Gum Disease FAQs
Can gum disease go away, or is it permanent?
Gum disease is separated into 4 levels. The first two levels may be reversed through treatment by our dentist near you, but the last two cannot. Either way, treatment is highly recommended for patients with gum disease, because it can prevent further issues. Treatment can also reduce the symptoms of your infection.
How long does gum disease take to go away?
The mildest form of gum disease, gingivitis, can be mostly gone within one to two weeks. It can take longer to treat as cases become more severe. As you progress further into deeper stages of gum disease, the chances of it full going away becomes lower and lower. In the furthest stages of gum disease, it cannot be reversed.
Is gum disease contagious?
Not necessarily, but it can happen. Gum disease comes from bacteria. It can be spread through contact with infected saliva. This is most commonly transmitted from parents to children, and between romantic partners. If you think you may have contracted gum disease, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with your dentist for a periodontal exam.
Can saltwater rinse heal gum infection?
Yes! One of the best ways to heal gums that are infected is to rinse them with saltwater. The best solution is created with a glass of warm water, and 1 teaspoon of salt. The warm water and salt help ease any irritation, and it removes the infection.
There are also lifestyle changes you can make to prevent gum disease: eating right, reducing stress, and giving up unhealthy habits like smoking. Help ensure that you keep your teeth for a lifetime. Give us a call at (410) 415-9013, or request an appointment online today.