When oral health comes to mind, most people think solely of their teeth, but gums play an important role in the function and health of a person’s mouth. Your gums are there to protect your teeth – and often need their own protection as well.
Causes of Gum Disease
Plaque, built-up by poor dental hygiene, is the number one cause of gum disease. However, there are other factors that can lead to gum disease, including:
- Hormonal changes – such as pregnancy or menopause that makes the gums more sensitive
- Illnesses – such as cancer or diabetes also interfere with the immune system
- Bad habits – such as smoking
- Poor dental habits – not brushing or flossing daily
- Family history
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease often progresses painlessly, but certain symptoms point to some form of the disease:
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Receding gums (teeth look longer)
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way teeth fit together upon biting down, or in the fit of partial dentures
Gingivitis vs. Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum (periodontal) disease. At the gingivitis stage, gums become red and inflamed and bleed easily. Gingivitis, if caught early, is highly treatable and even reversible. With a daily brushing and flossing regime and regular dental cleanings, gingivitis will go away.
Periodontitis, or the more advanced form of gum disease that can seriously damage the gums and the support structure of the teeth. A tell-tale sign of gum disease is when the teeth begin to pull away from the gums, causing them to become loose. Without treatment, the tooth may eventually have to be removed.
Gum Disease Treatments
Treatment for gingivitis is relatively easy. Dr. McCool will perform an extensive cleaning and recommend brushing and flossing twice a day. He will also schedule follow up cleanings more than the usual twice a year until the gingivitis is gone.
Treatment for gum disease is more extensive. It could include scaling and root planing, which is an intense cleaning performed under a local anesthetic. Plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line are scraped away (scaling) and rough spots on the tooth root are made smooth (planing).
Dr. McCool uses the Oraqix system to deliver needle-free pain relief during scaling and root planing procedures. This advanced system is the only FDA approved needle-free anesthetic for such purposes. The system delivers quick relief with anesthetizing effect in just 30 seconds. And the duration is about 20 minutes, so you can be sure you’ll return to normal activities immediately without feeling numb or drowsy.
If the gum disease has advanced significantly, surgical procedures may be necessary. Dr. McCool does everything in his power to avoid surgery options and treat gum disease through non-surgical procedures.