Gum Disease Treatment in Jonesboro, AR
What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a chronic infection of the tissues that hold in your teeth. This infection affects the gum tissue, bone, and ligaments that attach your teeth.
Gum disease starts when plaque is left on your teeth to form tartar and cause gingivitis. This tartar serves as the home base for bacteria to constantly irritate the gums and bone holding in the tooth. Once tartar has formed on teeth, a dental professional must remove it because it is too hard to get off by brushing or flossing.
As the disease progresses, gum recession and bone loss will start to be visible. Without treatment, gum disease will eventually lead to the loss of all teeth it affects.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
Gum disease can be sneaky because, unlike a cavity, gum disease only causes pain in severe cases. By the time gum disease starts to hurt, abscesses will have formed. Teeth will most likely be lost due to the disease.
Pain is the primary motivation behind patients coming to see us who have been away from a dentist for a while. Without this pain, many people allow gum disease to get very advanced before seeking treatment. Learning about the early signs and symptoms can help prevent this.
- Bleeding during home care — The number one sign of gum disease is bleeding when brushing and flossing. Bleeding gums are commonly dismissed since people assume they are simply flossing too hard. The truth is that healthy gums will not bleed when cleaned, even if done a little aggressively.
- Red, puffy gums — Healthy gums will be pink and fit tight to your teeth.
- Teeth that move — If teeth have any wiggle to them, it is most likely caused by loss of the bone supporting them. Front teeth with severe gum disease will start to move forward, and spaces will appear.
- Chalky, white material at the gum line — Tartar attaches first at the gum line. It will look dingy white and feel much rougher to your tongue than the tooth enamel. This is where the bacteria live that cause the infection.
How do you treat gum disease?
In all cases, the treatment for gum disease is to remove the offending bacteria. Unlike most other infections, the bacteria that cause gum disease cannot be just killed with an oral antibiotic. They must instead be mechanically cleaned from the tooth. This is done in a variety of ways:
Regular cleanings — In cases of gingivitis, treatment is as easy as getting back on schedule for regular cleanings. After removing the bacteria layer attached to your teeth, the gums will heal back to pink and pretty in no time. This is the only type of gum disease that is completely curable because no real gum or bone loss has occurred yet.
Deep Cleaning — Scaling and root planing, or deep cleaning, is the treatment most often required to stop gum disease. Deep cleaning is necessary when tartar has built up below the gum line. Once the tartar is below the gum line and in between teeth, the only way to comfortably remove it is to numb the area before cleaning. Once numb, the tartar is removed with special instruments. The gums are then irrigated with medicine to help heal the damage of infection. This treatment is usually done in two visits to prevent numbing the entire mouth at one time.
Periodontal Surgery — In extremely severe cases, you may be referred to a gum specialist. This specialist can assist in treating your gum disease. In these cases, options such as bone grafting to replace lost bone and gum tissue grafts may be necessary along with the deep cleaning.
Treatment is only the first step
The most important factor in keeping your mouth healthy after gum treatment is continued maintenance. If we don’t change the specific causes that led to the original gum disease, we will be right back where we started in just a few years.
Home care is the key. Learning to effectively clean your mouth and then getting into a regular routine will increase your chances of success dramatically. Regular maintenance visits with us to remove tartar and monitor healing is also a huge factor in long-term success.
Are you due for a cleaning? Even if it’s been a while, that’s okay. We want to help you improve your health. Call our Jonesboro dental office to schedule your cleaning and examination.