Posts for tag: gum disease
Could your gums be trying to tell you that something is wrong?
Gum disease affects about half of American adults, says the CDC. This condition is also the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Providing your smile with the proper oral hygiene it requires day in and day out is paramount to keeping gums healthy. Of course, gum disease is known as the silent disease because symptoms don’t usually manifest right away. So, how can you tell that you have gum disease? You might not! This is why visiting our La Grange, IL, dentists Dr. Carolyn Bronke and Dr. Josephine Puleo every six months for cleanings and checkups is so important for your oral health.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Again, symptoms don’t usually appear in the very beginning stages of gum disease so if you are noticing any of the symptoms below then it’s more likely that the gum disease is in a more advanced stage and will require an immediate assessment from our La Grange, IL, general dentists:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums, particularly when brushing or flossing
- Gums that are tender to the touch
- Receding gums (will make teeth appear longer than usual)
- Chronic bad breath
- Feeling as if your teeth don’t fit together when you bite
Unfortunately, many people don’t even realize that they have gum disease until it’s too late. This is why visiting your dentist every six months is often the only way to detect it during its earliest stages. If gum disease is discovered when it’s still only gingivitis it can be reversed.
Of course, even if the problem isn’t found until it’s already become full-blown periodontal disease, a simple non-surgical treatment known as scaling and root planing can often treat the problem and reduce your risk for tooth loss and other complications.
How do I prevent gum disease?
Your at-home oral care routine is paramount to protecting the health of your teeth and gums. There are simple things you should do every day to protect your gums from gum disease such as:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss daily
- Use a mouthwash
- Quit smoking
- Limit sugar
- Drink enough water
If you are noticing receding gums or other warning signs of gum disease, or if it’s just time to schedule your routine dental checkup, then it’s the perfect time to call our La Grange, IL, dental office to schedule an appointment.
Your gums’ primary role is to protect your teeth and keep them firmly in place. But periodontal (gum) disease can damage your gums to such an extent you could ultimately lose your teeth.
Gum disease is a progressive infection caused by bacterial plaque built up on tooth surfaces from poor oral hygiene. The initial infection triggers inflammation, a defensive response of the body characterized by swelling, redness and bleeding of the gums. An initial form of the disease known as gingivitis occurs in most people after just a few days without brushing or flossing.
Resuming hygienic activities to remove daily plaque, along with regular dental cleanings, may be enough to stop gingivitis and restore healthy gums. If the disease is allowed to advance, however, the infected gum tissues will begin to detach from the teeth, turning the slight normal gaps between teeth and gums into wider voids known as periodontal pockets that fill with bacteria leading to infection. Your hygiene efforts will not be enough to cope with this advanced form of periodontal disease.
At this point professional techniques are required to adequately remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits), depending on the depth and location of the periodontal pockets. The most basic of these is scaling using specialized hand instruments or ultrasonic equipment to remove plaque and calculus in pockets at or just below the gum line. If plaque and calculus have extended to the roots we may then need to employ root planing, in which we “shave” offending material from root surfaces. In some cases this may require accessing the area surgically beneath the gum tissue.
As plaque removal progresses, inflammation will begin to subside and the gum tissues heal. If, however, swelling, bleeding or pus formation persists, this may indicate bacterial levels remain too high. To decrease these levels we may need to administer antibiotics, or through mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine.
Once under control, it’s crucial from then on for you to maintain a strict daily regimen of brushing and flossing to keep plaque from building up on tooth surfaces. You'll also need to visit us regularly (two or more times a year) for professional cleaning and checkups. Keeping a close eye will help prevent a reoccurrence of this serious disease and prolong the life of your teeth.
If you would like more information on treating periodontal (gum) disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”
Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.
First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.
How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of allÂ Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.
What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.
Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.” Â If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.