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Healthy teeth need healthy gums

Did you know that periodontal disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults? Keeping your oral health in tip-top shape can help avoid gum disease and keep your smile clean and healthy. Our team at Lake Oak Dental is here to give you facts about gum disease and help you maintain your beautiful smile for a lifetime!

What is periodontal disease?

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth. Periodontitis is an advanced state of periodontal disease. With this condition, the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, creating pockets where bacteria can build up and cause an infection, ultimately leading to tooth loss.

Common Types of Gum Disease:

Chronic periodontitis is the most prevalent type of gum disease. It is usually caused by plaque buildup and involves slow deterioration over time. When not treated, this condition can cause many gum problems and bone and teeth loss.

Aggressive periodontitis affects only a small number of people and usually starts in childhood or early adulthood. If left untreated, it can cause rapid progression of bone and tooth loss.

Necrotizing periodontal disease typically occurs in people with a suppressed immune system due to health conditions such as cancer or HIV.  Severe gum infection causes a lack of blood supply, a condition known as necrosis, which ultimately leads to gum tissue, tooth ligaments, and supporting bone dying.

What are the symptoms?

The first signs of bacterial infection are sore, swollen, or bleeding gums. You may notice persistent bad breath, sores on the inside of your mouth, changes in your bite, or loose or sensitive teeth. You may also experience receding gums and pockets forming between the gums and teeth. If not treated, the infection can spread below the gum line and destroy the structures in your jawbone. Eventually, your teeth may become so loose that they will require extraction.

How periodontal disease develops

Gingivitis is the primary stage of periodontal disease, often resulting in gum irritation and inflammation. It directly results from the presence of plaque, the soft, sticky, colorless film of bacteria that continually forms on your teeth and gums. It is essential to catch gingivitis and manage it in the early stages because it is reversible with professional treatment and meticulous dental hygiene.

If you do not keep up with good oral hygiene practices and routine professional cleanings, plaque can harden under your gumline into tartar, also known as calculus. The more plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more damage they can cause.

Ongoing gum inflammation may result in periodontitis, eventually leading to pockets developing between your gums and teeth. In time, these pockets become deeper and continue filling with bacteria. Periodontitis causes a host of oral problems, and chronic inflammation can put a strain on your immune system.

Possible Complications

Gum disease, if left untreated, may destroy the structures supporting your teeth and can lead to tooth loss. Studies suggest that the bacteria associated with periodontitis can enter your bloodstream through your gums, leading to many medical problems. Studies have shown a link between periodontal disease and heart disease, stroke, premature births, diabetes, and respiratory conditions.

Treatment Options

When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, treatment becomes more involved. Several treatment options are available to you depending on the severity of your condition.

Tooth scaling and root planing is a process where we will scrape off the tarter that has built up on your teeth above and below your gum line. Next, we will smooth out rough spots on your tooth roots, making it more difficult for plaque buildup and for bacteria to collect.

If the gum inflammation and pockets persist after your tooth scaling and root planing, we may recommend a flap surgery. During this procedure, we remove tartar from the pockets that have formed alongside your teeth. We then close the pockets with stitches so that your gum sits snugly by your teeth once again.

In severe cases of periodontitis involving destroyed bone and tissue, you may need bone or tissue grafts to replace the affected tissue. You may need a procedure called guided tissue regeneration, in which a small piece of mesh is placed between your jaw bone and gums to allow your bones and tissue to regrow.

Periodontitis can also be treated using topical and oral antibiotics that work to kill the bacteria and shrink the pockets caused by gum disease.

Am I at risk?

While bacteria in plaque is the leading cause of periodontal disease, several factors can also contribute to increasing your risk for gum disease. Your genes may make you more susceptible than others to develop periodontal disease. Additionally, poor oral hygiene, smoking, crooked or misaligned teeth, stress, pregnancy, diseases such as diabetes, certain medications, and poor nutrition, all increase your risk for periodontal disease.

Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

The best treatment is prevention through maintaining oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing, using an antibacterial mouthwash regularly, and keeping up with your routine checkups and professional cleanings will decrease your risk of developing gum disease. Most people with healthy teeth and gums should see the dentist about once every six months. However, if you already have gum disease, you may need to visit us more often. Treating any condition early on will reverse it and keep your gums clean and healthy for years to come!

Schedule Your Routine Checkup and Cleaning Today

We, at Lake Oak Dental in Cedar Park, TX, encourage you to maintain your regular checkups and professional cleanings to maintain your oral health. If we identify any condition, we will discuss treatment options to avoid any long-term damage to your teeth and overall health. Our highly trained and professional staff strives to provide you with the best treatments available at our state-of-the-art facility. We are here to help you maintain your healthy smile for a lifetime!