Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a serious condition of the periodontal ligaments, tissues, and bones that support teeth.
Treating the condition is crucial to overall wellness, as the same inflammation found in gum disease can affect the heart, lungs, and other body systems.
Drs. McKenna and Matt Gibson, dentists in Madison, AL, work to prevent and treat this condition, using diligence and gentleness to restore patients to better oral health.
Gum Disease Linked to Overall Health
Studies have found links between periodontal disease and:
- Heart attack
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Lung health
- Low birth weight in babies
A new study has also found a link between COVID-19, periodontal disease, and more severe virus symptoms, including hospitalizations and the need for a respirator.
It’s important to remember that infections are always opportunistic and subject to spreading. Meaning that untreated gum disease can potentially impact several areas of the body and patient wellness.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease has stages, and it typically presents as gingivitis. This means the infections have not penetrated the bone. With intervention, a dentist can reverse gingivitis before it becomes full gum disease or periodontitis. Periodontitis is treatable but not curable.
In the gingivitis stage, symptoms can be elusive, which is why regular dental checkups and teeth cleanings are encouraged. A dentist or hygienist can find the telltale signs of gum disease before symptoms present.
Patients who do show symptoms may notice:
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing their teeth and flossing
- Tooth pain, which may be aggravated by hot or cold
- Mobile or loose and shifting teeth
- A bad taste in the mouth that returns despite brushing
- Gum recession, pocketing, and elongated-appearing teeth
A patient does not have to have all of these symptoms, or even one sign, to be diagnosed with gum disease or periodontitis. Additionally, they can have an oral health change or unusual presentation, making self-diagnosis a poor substitute for a definitive oral health check by a dentist. For this reason, professionals recommend that patients contact their dentist if they notice anything unusual or new with their teeth or gums.
Treating Periodontal Disease in Madison, AL
If the patient suspects gum disease, or if it’s time for a routine checkup and teeth cleaning, the dentist will always look for signs of gingivitis, including gum recession. If oral health changes are specific to gum disease or suspected, the dentist will order x-rays to make a definitive diagnosis.
Treatment plans are customized to the patient’s level of periodontal disease. In severe cases, or cases left untreated, extractions may be recommended. Sometimes, tooth replacement options are addressed after healing and if periodontal disease is well-controlled following treatment.
Treatments for periodontal disease may include:
- For gingivitis, a hygienist cleans plaque and tartar from teeth surfaces, including beneath the gums. The dental professional may also offer brushing and flossing suggestions for home care, including a specific regimen.
- For periodontal disease, the dentist provides a deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planing. This procedure clears harmful bacteria, plaque, and tartar, but it also levels root surfaces. This method encourages the gums to reattach to teeth and eliminates pockets where future bacteria can collect.
- If the patient is diagnosed with severe gum disease, the dentist may refer them to a periodontist for advanced therapies like bone or tissue grafting.
Reducing Gingivitis and Gum Disease Risks
When it comes to preventing diseases of the gum, preventive dentistry is the best way forward. This means visiting the dentist every six months for an oral health evaluation and teeth cleaning.
The evaluation covers all areas of oral care—from new cavities to gum disease and oral cancers. The dental cleaning rids teeth of the harmful ingredients that lead to gingivitis and then to gum disease.
Between these comprehensive checkups and cleanings, it is crucial to brush and floss the teeth at least twice per day. To further lower risks, the Drs. Gibson recommends:
- Quitting tobacco in all forms
- Brushing and flossing before bed
- Contacting the dentist if the patient notices changes
Brushing and flossing are crucial, but the way patients approach their oral care routine is also important.
When brushing the teeth, it’s important to hit all surfaces and spend some time, including the back of teeth. When flossing, use a clean piece for each go through and never force the thread.
About Periodontal Treatment with Top Dentists in Madison, AL
The skilled and friendly dentists at Gibson Dental—Drs. Mckenna Gibson, Matt Gibson, and Shannon Morey are passionate about prevention and helping patients keep their smiles healthy for life.
They offer nitrous oxide and customized treatment schedules for those diagnosed with gingivitis or periodontal disease. With them, patients are in compassionate hands and well on their way to better oral health.
The dentists at Gibson Dental are taking new patients and are always thrilled to welcome these new individuals into their dental practice.