According to recent statistics, periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects approximately half of all Americans age 30 and over. Many of these individuals are unaware that they have gum disease, since the condition often begins with little to no visible symptoms. Untreated gum disease can be debilitating to one’s oral health and overall health as well.
Dr. Julie Spaniel and the team at Summerwood Family Dental are committed to helping you and your family achieve optimal oral health and overall wellness. The experienced dentist is trained in detecting signs of gum disease and can recommend an array of treatment options based on your symptoms, the severity of the condition and your current oral health status. Dr. Spaniel also believes in educating her patients and providing them with the information and tools they need to take care of their teeth and gums. She encourages you to continue reading to learn about the signs and stages of gum disease, as well as how the condition can be treated.
Gum disease is caused by plaque and tartar buildup in the mouth, which in turn infect the gum tissue. The earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is usually painless and occurs with little to no visible symptoms. During this stage, the gums may appear red or swollen, and can bleed easily. When detected early, gingivitis can be treated and reversed with professional intervention (i.e., cleanings with your dentist) and good oral hygiene habits at home.
If left untreated, gingivitis turns to periodontitis, a much more serious stage of gum disease. In periodontitis, plague spreads below the gum line, which can irritate the gums and cause inflammation. The gums may also start to recede, causing teeth to loosen and eventually fall out or require extraction.
The effects of gum disease go beyond the mouth. Research shows that gum disease is linked to several health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and respiratory problems. Detecting and treating gum disease in its early stages not only protects your teeth and gums, but also contributes to overall health and well being.
Dr. Spaniel and our team are expertly trained in checking for signs of gum disease. We will thoroughly check your teeth and gums at your six-month checkup. X-rays will be taken to get an up-close look at your teeth, gums and other tissues.
Treatment for gum disease depends on the stage and severity of the condition. The first line of defense is a scaling and root planing, during which Dr. Spaniel will remove plaque and calculus from the gum line and on the tooth roots. The tooth roots are also smoothed out to prevent bacteria from accumulating there again. Antibiotic medications in the form of pills, mouth rinses or other topical agents may be used for additional protection.
If gum disease is more advanced, Dr. Spaniel will work with a periodontist to determine more extensive treatment options. Advanced stages of gum disease may require pocket reduction to smooth out damaged bone and remove bacteria and plaque. Bone or gum grafts may also be used to stimulate the body’s ability to regenerate bone or tissue.
Routine dental checkups with your dentist are key to early detection and treatment of gum disease. To schedule a dental checkup with Dr. Spaniel, or to discuss treatment options for gum disease, please contact Summerwood Family Dental today.