Treatment Options for Various Levels of Gum Disease
Raise your virtual hand if you’ve ever wondered why your dentist gently pokes your gums during every checkup and then writes something down right after. All of that prodding was your dental health professional’s way of checking for periodontal disease, an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth that progressively damages your smile’s health and appearance. Let’s talk a little more about this condition so you can correctly identify at which point gum disease is reversible.
What is gum disease?
Ironically, gum disease is your body’s response to the harmful bacteria, called plaque, that cling to your teeth. When this sticky, colorless film isn’t removed from the mouth through daily brushing and flossing, it can quickly build up and the bacteria will infect the gums and teeth and eventually damage the gum tissue, ligaments, and bones that hold your teeth in place. This can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out, and it may even necessitate dental extraction to stop the infection from spreading.
When is gum disease reversible?
To understand at what point gum disease is reversible, you first need to know the different stages of it. Gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, is primarily characterized by bleeding gums during brushing or flossing. Since the infection has yet to spread to the bone or connective tissues holding the teeth in place, it’s only at this stage where periodontal disease is reversible.
Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease. Once you reach this stage, the damage done to your gum tissue is irreversible. Your gums may form a pocket below the gumline that traps food and bacteria. Other signs include increased swelling or redness of the gums and persistent bad breath even after brushing.
The final stage of periodontal disease, known as advanced periodontitis, involves the destruction of the fibers and jawbone that support your teeth, causing them to shift or loosen. You may also have swollen gums that ooze pus, experience pain when chewing, or suffer from extreme tooth sensitivity and severe halitosis. Whichever stage of gum disease you’re in, a qualified dentist can offer a variety of treatment options to help save as much of your original smile (and mouth functionality) as possible.
How can you reverse gingivitis?
The damage plaque has done to your teeth and gums in the early stages of gum disease can be undone through consistent brushing and flossing twice a day. There are also antibacterial mouthwashes to help get rid of gingivitis-causing bacteria. Swish with one after every brushing session.
Scheduling dental checkups at least twice a year can also reduce the likelihood of plaque building up and hardening into tartar, reversing early symptoms of gingivitis and preventing periodontitis.
Lastly, be more mindful about what you eat. Sugary foods, carbonated drinks, and refined carbohydrates contribute to tooth decay. Switch to a healthy balanced diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy. These foods will boost your immune system and fight the infection from the gingivitis-causing bacteria.
What are the treatment options for periodontitis?
Since periodontitis involves bone loss, simple oral hygiene will no longer cut it as a treatment option. A dental health professional will need to clean or “scale” your teeth to remove the plaque above and below the gumline to prevent it from hardening into tartar.
You may also require a root planing procedure to remove bacteria and food particles from any gum pockets and get the infected tissues sanitized and smoothed to help your gums reattach to the tooth roots and heal. If the infection is extensive, your dentist will most likely recommend periodontal surgery or periodontal laser therapy to clean the deep, bacteria-filled pockets that are oozing pus.
Even if you’re a little late in getting treatment and periodontitis has led to tooth loss, your dentist can have you fitted with dental implants to replace your missing tooth. Not only will the implant function and look like your natural teeth, but it’ll also help treat your gum disease symptoms. The implant connects to your natural bone and stimulates the connective tissues just like your lost tooth did, which encourages the regeneration of bone and reverses bone loss.
Compassionate Periodontal Therapy in Granite City, IL
If you take away anything from this article, let it be how gum disease is reversible but only when caught early. As the initial signs of periodontal disease may be undetectable, a visit with Dr. May in Granite City, IL, is the best way to prevent and detect gum disease in its earliest stages.
The sooner you can schedule an appointment, the better your chances are of saving your teeth and maintaining your oral health. Take the first step in treating your periodontitis by talking to us today!