Gum disease poses a risk to your oral health and you may not even be aware of it -- say La Jolla dentist Dr. David Kitchen. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to serious tooth loss and other health complications. Before gum disease escalates to that point, it is possible to reverse the progression of the effects of gum disease.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
You've probably heard of gingivitis, but have you heard of periodontitis? Gingivitis occurs when bacteria gets stuck in areas of the gum line, inflaming gums. Symptoms of gingivitis usually come in the form of continual bad breath and bleeding gums while brushing. Once gingivitis goes untreated, the disease transforms into periodontitis -- reaching connective tissue and even the bone.
How Your Check-Up With Your La Jolla Dentist Helps
By the time patients even begin to notice the signs of gum disease, it's usually too late. That's why it's important to see your dentist bi-annually, to ensure you're not suffering from a severe case of gum disease. Dentists can spot problem areas along the gum line and any erosion around the root of the tooth. When you visit the dentist regularly, you begin to build up a history that allows the dentist to compare previous visits and x-rays, monitoring the progress or added erosion.
Preventing and Treating Gum Disease
Maintaining recommended dental hygiene habits is the first step in preventing gum disease. Most of us know the basics (brushing and flossing twice a day), but there are additional steps you can take:
- Use an anti-bacterial mouthwash after brushing to wash away any "left-over" bacteria
- Quit Smoking. Smoking damages gums, providing a habitable environment in which bacteria flourishes
- Dr. Kitchen can scrape away plaque at the gumline
What To Do About Periodontitis
If gum disease has infected the bone, then more specialized care at home and the dentist's office is required:
- The first step is for a dentist to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line. You may need a local anesthetic so you don’t feel pain.
- Next, your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent infection. Some people, may need periodontal surgery to fold back gum tissue. Periodontal surgery can also treat deeper pockets of infection.
- Your dentist or periodontist may need to do a procedure called grafting. For that, he takes tissue from one part of your mouth (such as the roof) to replace gum tissue that has eroded, exposing the roots of your teeth.