Posts for tag: periodontal disease
Gum disease is certainly not something you want to ignore. This condition affects most American adults and is the leading cause of tooth loss. Brushing and flossing are the best ways to protect your gums from the bacteria responsible for causing periodontal disease; however, it’s also important that you know when to recognize that you may have gum disease so that you can turn to our Kirkland, WA, dentist Dr. Bernard Pak right away.
Who is at risk for gum disease?
While gum disease can happen to anyone there are certain factors that can increase your chances for developing this infection. These factors include:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Tobacco use
- Heavy alcohol use
- Hormonal changes (e.g. menopause; pregnancy)
- Poor nutrition
While you won’t be able to change certain risk factors such as genetics it’s obvious that there is still a lot you can do to protect your gums from infection. Brushing and flossing regularly and eating a healthy diet are the best preventive measures you can take. Quitting smoking and drinking in moderation can also reduce your risk. Women who are pregnant may also want to visit their dentist more regularly for routine checkups and cleanings.
What are the warning signs of gum disease?
You may be dealing with gum disease if you are experiencing any of these symptoms:
- Bleeding gums, particularly after brushing, flossing or eating hard foods
- Tender, puffy and red gums
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth
- Sudden tooth sensitivity (due to root exposure because of receding gums)
- Persistent and unexplained bad breath
- Changes in your bite, or how your teeth fit together
It’s important to understand that many people have gum disease but never experience any symptoms; therefore, if you’ve been putting off visiting your dentist in Kirkland, WA, because you aren’t experiencing any symptoms or issues it’s possible that you could have gum disease and not even know it. That’s why it’s important to visit your dentist for routine checkups twice a year.
If bleeding, puffy gums are affecting you in Kirkland, WA, then it’s time that you scheduled an immediate dental appointment with Dr. Pak to find out what’s going on. The dental team at Kirkland Smiles Dental Care is dedicated to providing you with the care you need to maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Periodontal (gum) disease is a serious infection that can damage more than periodontal tissues — supporting bone structure is also at risk. Any bone loss could eventually lead to tooth loss.
To stop it from causing this kind of damage, we must match this disease's aggressiveness with equally aggressive treatment. The various treatment techniques all have the same goal: to remove bacterial plaque, the source of the infection, from all oral surfaces, including below the gum line. Buildup of plaque, a thin film of food particles, after only a few days without adequate brushing and flossing is enough time to trigger gum disease.
The basic removal technique is called scaling, using hand instruments called scalers to manually remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) above or just below the gum line. If the disease or infection has advanced to the roots, we may use another technique called root planing in which we shave or “plane” plaque and tartar from the root surfaces.
Advancing gum disease also causes a number of complex problems like abscesses (localized infections in certain areas of gum tissue) or periodontal pockets. In the latter circumstance the slight normal gap between tooth and gums becomes deeper as the tissues weaken and pull away. This forms a void or pocket that fills with inflammation or infection that must be removed. Plaque buildup can also occur around furcations, the places where a tooth's roots divide off from one another.
It may be necessary in these more complex situations to perform a procedure known as flap surgery to gain access to these infected areas. As the name implies, we create an opening in the gums with a hinge, much like the flap of a paper envelope. Once the accessed area has been cleansed of plaque and infected tissues (and often treated with antibiotics to stop further infection), the flapped tissue is closed back in place and sutured.
To avoid these advanced stages it's important for you to see us at the first sign of problems: swollen, red or bleeding gums. Even more important is to reduce your risk for gum disease in the first place with dedicated daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque and regular dental visits for more thorough cleaning.
Gum disease can be devastating to your long-term dental health. But with diligent hygiene and early aggressive treatment you can stop this destructive disease in its tracks.
If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease (from the roots for “around” and “tooth”) starts with redness and inflammation, progresses to infection, and can lead to progressive loss of attachment between the fibers that connect the bone and gum tissues to your teeth, ultimately causing loss of teeth. Here are some ways to assess your risk for gum disease.
Your risk for developing periodontal disease is higher if:
- You are over 40.
Studies have shown that periodontal disease and tooth loss correlate with aging. The longer plaque (a film of bacteria that collects on your teeth and gums) is allowed to stay in contact with your gums, the more you are at risk for periodontal disease. This means that brushing and flossing to remove plaque is important throughout your lifetime. To make sure you are removing plaque effectively, come into our office for an evaluation of your brushing and flossing techniques.
- You have a family history of gum disease.
If gum disease seems to “run in your family,” you may be genetically predisposed to having this disease. Your vulnerability or resistance to gum disease is influenced by genetics. The problem with this assessment is that if your parents were never treated for gum disease or lacked proper instruction in preventative strategies and care, their susceptibility to the disease is difficult to accurately quantify.
- You smoke or chew tobacco.
Here's more bad news for smokers. If you smoke or chew tobacco you are at much greater risk for the development and progression of periodontal disease. Smokers' teeth tend to have more plaque and tartar while also having them form more quickly.
- You are a woman.
Hormonal fluctuations during a woman's lifetime tend to make her more susceptible to gum disease than men, even if she takes good care of her teeth.
- You have ongoing health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, high stress, or diabetes.
Research has shown a connection between these conditions and periodontal disease. The bacteria can pass into the blood stream and move to other parts of the body. Gum disease has also been connected with premature birth and low birth weight in babies.
- Your gums bleed when you brush or floss.
Healthy gums do not bleed. If yours do, you may already have the beginnings of gum disease.
- You are getting “long in the tooth.”
If your teeth appear longer, you may have advancing gum disease. This means that infection has caused your gum tissue to recede away from your teeth.
- Your teeth have been getting loose.
Advancing gum disease results in greater bone loss that is needed to support and hold your teeth in place. Loose teeth are a sign that you have a serious problem with periodontal disease.
Even with indications of serious periodontal disease, it can still be stopped. Make an appointment with us today to assess your risks. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Assessing Risk for Gum Disease.”