Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What You Need to Know About Gum Disease by Meredi Wagner-Hoehn

Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in the United States. People lose teeth every day simply because are not properly informed about preventing gum disease or how to recognizer it in the early stages. By becoming informed, you will greatly increase your chances of having a healthy and happy mouth for the rest of your life.

Types of Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs in two progressive stages – gingivitis and then periodontitis. As plaque slowly accumulates on the teeth and below the gum line, gingivitis develops. At this stage, no irrevocable damage will have occurred. However, plaque below the gum line does affect the gum tissue, teeth, and bone by slowly breaking each of them down. As the gums pull back from the teeth, pockets appear which invite infection. The bone deteriorates, weakening the foundation for the tooth. With weakened bone and gum, the teeth become more prone to falling out. This is the periodontitis stage of gum disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

By the time you notice that spaces have developed between your gums and your teeth, gum disease is in its advanced stages. However, there are signs to watch for that will alert you to the early stages so you can address before long term damage has occurred. If your gums bleed easily, are sore, appear bruised or swollen, and are redder than usual, you are most likely suffering from gingivitis. It is advisable to consult with your dentist whenever you notice changes to your gums or teeth. – particularly anything negative, such as increased sensitivity – consult with your dentist

Causes of Gum Disease

The primary cause of gum disease is the build up of bacteria and food refuse which, in turn, creates plaque. Anything that encourages plaque contributes to the development of gum disease. Poor dental hygiene creates an environment where plaque can grow rampantly. This highlights the oft repeated importance of brushing and flossing regularly. You may be more at risk of gum disease if your teeth are incorrectly set as it can be more challenging adequately clean by brushing which may result in increased, plaque-promoting bacteria. Also, any mouthpiece such as braces, Invisalign®, night guards, dentures may be similarly problematic if they aren’t properly cleaned.

Treatments for Gum Disease

Generally, the best treatment for gum disease is a good cleaning. A professional tooth cleaning, called scaling and root planing, performed by a professional dentist will eliminate early stage gingivitis as long as patients continue to practice good oral care at home. However, if the gum disease has progressed to an advanced stage, PerioLase® may be necessary. PerioLase® is a laser gum disease treatment that eliminates the downtime and discomfort which typically accompanies periosurgery. If the gum disease is too advanced or the tooth has already fallen out, an Austin dental implant may be necessary.

For more personalized gum disease information, consult with professional Austin PerioLase® periodontist, Dr. Mike Williamson, DDS. Dr. Williamson will gladly work with you and your general dentist to bring your mouth back to optimal health.