Taking The Pain Out Of The Treatment Of Gum Disease
Do you notice a bit of blood when brushing and flossing your teeth? Maybe you think this is normal … it’s not. Healthy gums should not bleed at all when brushing and flossing. In fact, bleeding gums are the most common symptom of gum disease. Other symptoms may include chronic bad breath or discoloration and lesions on your gums. Many people ignore the treatment of gum disease for fear of a painful dental procedure – but going untreated could lead to greater impacts on their health, not to mention potentially losing their teeth.
Essentially, there are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Understanding how to prevent gum disease is important, as prolonged gingivitis can turn into periodontitis. Some of the causes for gingivitis include diabetes, smoking, aging, genetics, stress, inadequate nutrition, substance abuse, HIV infection, and certain medications or diseases that impact other parts of the body. Hormonal fluctuations like those experienced during puberty and pregnancy can also increase your risk.
When gingivitis is ignored and not properly treated, the more severe form of gum disease, periodontitis, can occur. This happens over time as plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacteria generated from this plaque cause a chronic inflammatory response where the body starts to break down the tissues and bone that support the teeth. As the gums start to separate from the teeth and the infection progresses, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
The treatment process for periodontal disease has historically been rather painful, requiring anesthetic for the entire mouth. The process of scaling and root planing (smoothing of the root’s surface) works to treat the disease by removing plaque and tarter that have built up deep on the root. Gum grafting has also been used in treatment to cover roots of teeth where severe recession has occurred.
Thanks to advances in dental technology, contemporary approaches to treat periodontal disease can be achieved with non-surgical or non-painful procedures. Modern technology, instrumentation, and equipment can now deliver more pleasant and effective solutions – such as dental lasers that are used to kill bacteria via a comfortable, scalpel-free surgery, if required – than those of days past.
As always, prevention should be the first approach. Regular dental check-ups and good oral hygiene are the basis for keeping gum disease at bay. A few quick oral hygiene reminders:
– Don’t forget that as you brush your teeth, you should also brush your tongue, which can easily harbor bacteria.
– Flossing is a key element to good oral hygiene as it allows particles of food that may get trapped between teeth and along the gum line to be removed.
– Adding an alcohol-free mouthwash or salt water rinse helps to reduce the potential of gum disease.
As certain health factors like age, smoking, diet, and genetics can increase your risk, it’s important to consult with your dental professional for your best treatment plan.
Dr. Edmond Suh
Owner of Supremia Dentistry, located at 1711 S. Main St. in Wake Forest.