Periodontal disease, better known as gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. According to the CDC, almost half of Americans have some sort of gum disease. Gum disease occurs when bacteria, in the form of plaque or tartar, build up on the teeth along the gum line. The initial buildup of plaque or tartar causes inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue leading to a red and swollen appearance, also known as gingivitis. Plaque and tartar left on teeth for long periods of time can eventually lead to more moderate or severe forms of gum disease which may include the destruction of the bone supporting the teeth.
How is Gum Disease Detected?
At Gallery Park Dental, our dentists provide all of our patients with a thorough gum disease screening. This screening includes measuring and recording the pockets between the gum tissue and the teeth, areas of gum recession, areas of plaque and tartar buildup, and areas of gum inflammation. X-rays are also used to detect the destruction of bone supporting the teeth or tarter buildup under the gums. All of these tests are used to detect the presence and severity of gum disease.
How Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?
Gum disease can be prevented by removing plaque daily with good brushing and flossing. Also, important is a twice a year visit to the dentist for a professional cleaning and exam. Mouth rinses, such as Listerine and Act, can help to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. However, mouth rinses should only be used supplement but not replace brushing and flossing.
How is Gum Disease Treated?
In the early stages of gum disease, most treatments involve a specialized cleaning by your dentist called scaling and root planning, or deep cleaning. This type of cleaning involves the complete removal of plaque and tarter both above and below the gum line. At Gallery Park Dental, our doctors also use a prescription mouth rinse to lower the bacterial levels after the cleaning. Once the initial treatment is completed, patients are brought back 6-8 weeks later to undergo a new screening to insure the gum disease is gone. If certain areas of gum tissue still show evidence of disease, a special antibiotic is sometimes placed on the gums.
If you are concerned you might have gum disease or if you notice bleeding when you brush or floss, please contact one of our dentists at Gallery Park Dental today!