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Gum Health 101: Tips for Preventing Periodontal Disease

May 17, 2024
Gum disease treatment at Glendale Heights Family Dental

Are you taking proactive steps to safeguard your smile? Your oral health plays a crucial role in your overall well-being, and one common threat to it is periodontal disease. At Glendale Heights Family Dental, we prioritize not just treating dental issues but also educating our patients on how to prevent them. Let’s discuss what periodontal disease is, its symptoms, the reasons behind its occurrence, and crucial tips for prevention.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is a serious infection of the gums that can damage the soft tissue and, if left untreated, can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. It's caused by bacteria in plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Knowing the symptoms of periodontal disease is crucial for early detection and treatment. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Gums that bleed easily: Healthy gums should not bleed during brushing or flossing.
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums: These are common signs of inflammation, which can indicate an infection.
  • Receding gums: If your gums are pulling away from your teeth, it can be a sign of gum disease.
  • Persistent bad breath: Often caused by bacteria in the mouth, bad breath can be a symptom of periodontal disease.
  • Loose or separating teeth: As the disease progresses, the bone supporting the teeth can be lost, leading to loose teeth.
  • Changes in your bite: If your teeth don’t seem to fit together the way they used to, it could be due to bone loss from gum disease.

Reasons Why Periodontal Disease Occurs

Several factors can contribute to the development of periodontal disease:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Not brushing and flossing regularly allows plaque to build up and harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional.
  • Tobacco Use: Smoking or chewing tobacco increases your risk of gum disease.
  • Genetics: Some people may be more genetically predisposed to gum disease.
  • Poor Nutrition: A diet lacking in essential nutrients can compromise your immune system and make it harder for your body to fight infection.
  • Certain Medications: Some medications can affect oral health, such as medications that reduce saliva flow.
  • Medical Conditions: Diseases like diabetes can increase the risk of gum disease.

Tips for Preventing Periodontal Disease

Now, let's focus on what you can do to prevent periodontal disease and maintain optimal oral health:

  • Brush Twice a Day: Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush for at least two minutes each time.
  • Floss Daily: Cleaning between your teeth removes plaque and debris that your toothbrush can't reach.
  • Use Mouthwash: An antibacterial mouthwash can help reduce bacteria that cause gum disease.
  • Eat a Balanced Diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins supports overall health, including oral health.
  • Limit Sugary Foods: Bacteria thrive on sugars, so reducing your intake of sugary foods and drinks can help prevent plaque buildup.
  • Quit Smoking: If you smoke or use tobacco, quitting can significantly reduce your risk of gum disease.
  • Attend Regular Dental Check-ups: Routine dental visits allow your dentist to detect early signs of gum disease and provide treatment before it progresses.
  • Professional Cleanings: Dental cleanings remove tartar buildup, which is essential for preventing gum disease.

Gum Disease Treatment: Scaling and Root Planing

At Glendale Heights Family Dental, we provide a thorough approach to combatting gum disease, offering scaling and root planing as a vital treatment option. When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, this non-surgical procedure becomes essential for restoring gum health and preventing further damage.

 

The process begins with scaling, a meticulous cleaning performed by our skilled dental hygienists using specialized tools. Plaque and tartar, which can accumulate both above and below the gumline, are carefully removed. These deposits are particularly stubborn and cannot be effectively eliminated through regular brushing and flossing alone. By meticulously cleaning these areas, we prevent further progression of gum disease and create a healthier environment for the gums to heal.

 

Following scaling, the next step is root planing. This involves smoothing out the surfaces of the tooth roots. Root surfaces can become rough due to bacterial deposits, which can lead to gum inflammation and infection. By planing the roots, we remove these rough spots, making it more difficult for bacteria to reattach and cause further damage. This process also helps the gums to reattach more firmly to the tooth surfaces, promoting healing and reducing the depth of gum pockets where bacteria thrive.

Who Needs Scaling and Root Planing?

Scaling and root planing is typically recommended for patients showing signs of moderate to severe gum disease, including:

  • Deep Periodontal Pockets
  • Gum Recession
  • Bleeding Gums
  • Persistent Bad Breath
  • Tooth Mobility

 

In addition to scaling and root planing, several other treatments are available to address various stages and severity of gum disease.

 

  • Gum Graft Surgery: For patients with significant gum recession, gum graft surgery may be recommended. This procedure involves taking tissue from the roof of the mouth or a donor source and grafting it onto areas where the gums have receded. This not only helps to protect the tooth roots but also improves the aesthetic appearance of the smile.

 

  • Pocket Reduction (Flap) Surgery: In more advanced cases of gum disease where deep pockets have formed between the teeth and gums, pocket reduction surgery may be necessary. During this procedure, the gums are folded back, and the root surfaces are thoroughly cleaned to remove bacteria and tartar. The gum tissue is then secured back into place, reducing the depth of the pockets and allowing for better gum health.

 

  • Antibiotic Treatments: In some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to help control bacterial infection and inflammation. These antibiotics can be taken orally, applied directly to the affected areas, or inserted into the gum pockets.

 

  • Laser Gum Therapy: Laser technology has revolutionized gum disease treatment. Laser therapy can target and remove diseased tissue while promoting the regeneration of healthy tissue. This minimally invasive procedure is often more comfortable for patients and can result in faster healing times.

 

  • Guided Tissue Regeneration: This advanced technique is used to regenerate lost gum and bone tissue around a tooth. A biocompatible membrane is placed between the gum tissue and the bone to promote the growth of new tissue and bone. This can help to restore the supporting structures of the teeth and improve overall gum health.

 

  • Crown Lengthening: Sometimes performed for both functional and cosmetic reasons, crown lengthening involves removing excess gum tissue to expose more of the tooth's surface. This can be beneficial for preparing a tooth for restoration or improving the appearance of a "gummy" smile.

 

Ready to take the first step towards healthier gums and a brighter smile? Contact Glendale Heights Family Dental today to schedule your consultation. Our experienced team is here to provide you with personalized care and effective treatments to restore and maintain your gum health.

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