Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting your gum tissue and surrounding bone. Gum disease takes hold when plaque and tartar are allowed to accumulate on the surface of your teeth.
Gum disease falls into two categories:
Red or swollen gums that easily bleed when brushed mark the earliest stage of gum disease. Improved brushing and flossing habits, as well as regular professional cleanings, can reverse gingivitis.
Gingivitis can develop into periodontitis if left untreated. Your gums may begin to pull away from the surface of your teeth, creating “pockets” where even more bacteria can enter and thrive. If a dental professional doesn't address periodontitis, it leads to severe gum and bone damage.
Gum disease can be difficult to detect, as symptoms are often mild in the earliest stages. The more common symptoms of gum disease include:
Because the early stages of gum disease can be difficult to detect, it's essential to schedule regular cleanings and dental exams. Dr. Hsu and your hygienist are trained to spot the early signs of gum disease and can help you improve your dental hygiene habits to correct the issue.
Treatment depends on how advanced your gum disease is, and your overall health. The first step is a professional cleaning to remove as much plaque and tartar as possible.
You may require a deep cleaning, which is also known as scaling and root planing. This process involves manually scraping off tartar from above and below your gum line. During root planing, Dr. Hsu smooths rough areas below your gumline that attract bacteria.
Medications can also help, including oral antibiotics, antimicrobial mouth rinses, and enzyme suppressants. There are even tiny antiseptic chips that can be placed into gum pockets to fight bacteria.
Surgical options include flap surgery to lift your gums away from your teeth to provide access for deep cleaning. Bone and tissue grafts can help replace lost tissue and prompt the growth of new bone and gum tissue.
If you’ve noticed some blood in your sink after brushing or flossing, or have red or swollen gums, make an appointment for a dental exam and cleaning today.
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