What are some gum disease treatments?

Poulsbo Gum disease is a condition that can progress over time if left untreated. Caught in the earliest stage, known as gingivitis, treatment can prevent the disease from advancing to more worrisome stages of gum disease, from periodontitis to advanced periodontitis. For this reason and others, it is very important to maintain not only good oral hygiene but also to keep up with twice-yearly visits to your dentist’s office, where your dental hygienist can help you keep your teeth and gums free of the build-up called tartar that leads to gum disease.

What is tartar and how does it lead to gum disease?

Tartar is a kind of dental calculus that forms on your teeth over time when the thin film of bacteria (plaque) that builds up on it during the day is not effectively removed by brushing and flossing. Over time, this film of plaque hardens and turns into tartar, which then creates a welcoming environment for more plaque to build up and harden. Once plaque turns into tartar, it can no longer be removed by brushing and flossing alone; this is a key part of the job your dental hygienist performs when he or she cleans your teeth twice a year.

Left on your teeth for too long, the bacteria present in plaque and tartar can infect the surrounding tissues, starting with the gums and moving into the bone. A simple infection of the gums is what characterizes gingivitis, which typically presents as sore, red, inflamed gums that may bleed while you brush or floss your teeth. Left untreated, this infection can progress into the bone, at which point it becomes periodontitis. Without intervention, advanced periodontitis can set in, which can threaten the integrity of your teeth and may necessitate their removal.

How is gum disease treated?

The treatment of gum disease depends a great deal on degree to which it has progressed. Simple gingivitis can be treated by through dental cleaning during which tartar and plaque are removed. Depending on the severity of the infection in the gums, your dentist may recommend the use of an antibacterial mouth wash or toothpaste, which can help resolve the infection before it progresses.

In more advanced cases of periodontitis, your dentist may need to do root scaling and planning, related procedures in which your dentist removes pockets of infection below the gum line using scaling devices including ultrasonic devices, hand scalers, and lasers. In cases of more advanced periodontitis, gingival flap surgery and/or bone grafting may also be required. If bone tissue has been damaged past the point of saving, your dentist may have to extract the affected teeth.

Because connections have been made between gum disease and other maladies ranging from diabetes to stroke and heart disease, it is very important to not leave it untreated. If you are experiencing red or tender gums or noticing other tell-tale signs of gum disease such as tooth pain, bad breath, loose teeth, or even a difference in your bite, it’s time to give your dentist a call. The earlier you detect gum disease, the more effectively you can treat it. Don’t put it off, make an appointment today. Your gums – and teeth! – will thank you for it.

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