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In the United States, almost 50% of people suffer from periodontitis (or gum disease). If you suspect that you have gum disease, it’s important not to ignore it — if left unaddressed, it can worsen and lead to receding gums, tooth loss, and an increased risk of heart and lung diseases. The good news is, gum disease can be treated. At Chappaqua Dentistry, our team can assess the severity of your periodontitis and devise a treatment plan to restore your teeth to prime condition. Here’s a closer look at gum disease and the treatments available.
There are several potential causes of gum disease, including smoking, medication side effects and nutritional deficiencies. However, in most cases, gum disease is a result of poor oral hygiene. Every time you eat or drink, small particles accumulate on your teeth and form a sticky substance known as plaque. Usually, plaque can be removed through proper brushing and flossing. However, if you don’t take care of your daily oral health needs, plaque will escalate and begin to release harmful bacteria that make your gums recede.
As gum disease progresses, it can create small pockets in your gums that become filled with more bacteria. In the worst-case scenario, this bacteria can leak into your bloodstream and cause problems with your heart and lungs. It may also lead to tooth loss.
While the consequences of gum disease might sound alarming, the good news is the condition is treatable. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to identify it (especially in the early stages). To take care of your oral health needs, look out for the following signs:
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact the Chappaqua Dentistry team for an exam. The earlier you seek treatment, the easier it will be to resolve the issue.
The treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of your condition. In the early stages, you may be able to resolve the issue at home — later stages, however, generally require more advanced treatment. Here’s a closer look at the different solutions available at each level.
In the earliest stages, gum disease is reversible as long as you improve your oral hygiene routine. If you notice some warning signs of periodontitis, such as bleeding or swollen gums, make sure you’re doing the following:
In addition to taking these at-home steps, you should keep up with your regular dental appointments. By assessing the condition of your teeth, our team at Chappaqua Dentistry can provide a routine dental cleanings, offer advice on your oral care routine and prescribe antibiotics if necessary. We can also let you know if you need more advanced care.
If the problem cannot be resolved through a standard cleanings, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing. Scaling removes plaque around the gum-line, while planing smooths the surface of your teeth roots (allowing the gums and teeth to connect properly). To scale your teeth, your dentist will choose between two types of tools:
The first option involves using metal tools to eliminate plaque that your toothbrush cannot access. Ultrasonic instruments achieve the same goal — however, they use a water spray instead. The planing process occurs directly after scaling and is done in a similar manner.
In more severe cases, the only treatment option may be surgery. Prior to the procedure, the Chappaqua Dentistry team will do the following:
The exact type of surgery you receive depends on the extent of your gum disease. Generally, patients will undergo one of the following procedures.
If you have deep pockets filled with bacteria, your dentist may recommend flap surgery. During this procedure, the gums are lifted off the teeth to help remove plaque and tartar. Once the area is clean, our dentists will stitch the gums back into place.
In some cases, gum disease may damage the root of your teeth (increasing the risk of tooth loss). To restore them to prime condition, we might advise a bone graft. The procedure involves removing the damaged bone and replacing it with healthy bone (which may be manufactured, come from the patient or be gifted by a donor).
For patients with receding gums, tissue grafting offers a solution. During this procedure, we will gently remove tissue from another part of your body (generally the roof of the mouth) and then attach it to the area of your mouth where the gums are receding. Not only does this help reduce the effects of gum disease, but it also improves the appearance of your teeth by covering exposed tooth roots.
No matter which surgery you have, it’s important to give your mouth the opportunity to heal after. To speed up recovery, your dentist may prescribe pain relief medications. They may also recommend the following:
You may experience some teeth sensitivity as you emerge from surgery. Following your dentist’s instructions and avoiding putting any excess pressure on your teeth and gums is key to a speedy, healthy recovery.
If you’re worried about gum disease, Chappaqua Dentistry can help. In addition to evaluating and cleaning your teeth, we can let you know if surgery is needed and answer any questions you may have about the procedure. Preserve the quality of your smile by contacting our team today!