A comprehensive exam of your oral health will be performed to determine whether you have healthy gums, gingivitis, or periodontal disease. Teeth are surrounded by bone and supporting fibers. In a healthy mouth, teeth are supported by normal levels of bone and supporting ligaments. The pocket of tissue (sulcus) around teeth in a healthy mouth will normally be 3 mm in depth, or less, without accompanying bleeding upon measurement. Inflammation of the supporting fibers and gingival tissue and bone loss can result in a deeper pocket of tissue around the teeth. The pocket depths and bleeding can indicate the severity of infection or disease – e.g., 4-5 mm or more in depth indicates gingivitis or early onset of periodontal disease; 6 mm or more is indicative of chronic, advanced periodontal disease. We will also measure the amount your gums have pulled from your teeth – otherwise known as recession. These combined findings help us to identify whether you have healthy gums, a potentially reversible infection known as gingivitis, or periodontal disease. Treatment varies with each individual, however, most cases of gingivitis and periodontal disease can be treated with our in-office, non-surgical treatments.
Healthy gums are pink in color, tight, and usually do not bleed upon proper brushing and flossing. Regular brushing, flossing, and professional care by a dental hygienist are normally all that is needed to maintain healthy gums. It is normally recommended that to maintain healthy gingiva, patients be seen twice a year for recare appointments.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. Some people experience soreness, redness, puffiness and bleeding due to inflammation of the supporting fibers and soft tissue. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss. With proper care by your dental hygienist and with excellent home care you can reverse this disease process. Irritants such as plaque (can be brushed off your teeth), calculus (cannot be brushed off your teeth), etc., will need to be professionally removed on a regular basis. The frequency of professional visits (on average every 3-6 months) can depend on your oral hygiene routine at home.
There are several stages of gum disease. These can range in severity from inflamed gums, recession, mild bone lose, gum loss, infection, to tooth loss. Early periodontal disease can be identified by the same symptoms as gingivitis, combined with gums pulling away from teeth and radiographic evidence of a change in bone density. If left untreated, early periodontital disease can progressively turn into chronic, advanced periodontal disease. How do you know if you have periodontal disease? If you have some or all of the following indicators, you probably have periodontal disease.
- Gums that bleed or are red, puffy or swollen.
- Gums that have pulled away from your teeth.
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
- Pus that appears between your teeth and gums.
- Constant bad breath or bad taste in your mouth.
- Shifting or loose teeth
Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to pain, infections, bone loss and tooth loss. Your oral health can affect your whole body wellness. Periodontal disease has been linked to cardiac diseases, infections of the lining of the heart, and strokes, just to name a few.
We provide treatment of periodontal disease that involve non-surgical removal of plaque, bacteria, and irritants combined with the use of topical and sometimes systemic medicaments. Thorough treatment is needed for periodontal disease and can often be started on the day of your comprehensive exam. Most patients diagnosed with periodontal disease can be treated in just two appointments. Oral hygiene education will be given and needs to be followed. Once it is established that your tissues have improved and are stable, we can often maintain your level of health with periodontal maintenance appointments every 3 months. Individual results vary, however, if home care instructions are closely followed some patients can maintain their periodontal health with less frequent periodontal maintenance appointments, and some can convert to the 6 month recare appointments.
If you are trying to establish a new dental home or if you have been without one for a long time, we can meet your dental needs. We understand that many factors may have prevented you from caring for your oral health needs in the past. Don’t let embarrassment over your oral health prevent you from having your dental health evaluated and treated. The signs of gum disease are not always easy to see, can be painless, and can lead to other more serious complications. The earlier you are evaluated and treated, the faster you’ll be on your way to a healthier, happier you.