According to the Canadian Dental Association, seven out of ten individuals will develop periodontal disease at some point during their lifetime. Fortunately, this condition is not typically painful unless it is advanced. Because of this, however, it is important to recognize common warning signs and diagnose gum disease while still in the early stages. If left untreated, it can lead to a host of serious dental issues, including tooth mobility, shifting, and even tooth loss. Today, our team at LG Dental Centre will discuss prevention and explain how nonsurgical gum disease treatment can preserve your oral health for years to come.
Gum disease begins slowly. So slowly, in fact, that it can go unnoticed unless you are aware of the warning signs. The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, and it is characterized by red, swollen, tender gums. Some patients even notice bleeding when they brush. This condition is simply the body’s reaction to irritants on the teeth. As plaque accumulates around the gum line, the bacteria cause the tissue to become inflamed.
Fortunately, gingivitis can be completely reversed with a routine dental cleaning and improved home care. However, if left untreated, the condition will progress into periodontitis, leading to more serious problems. If plaque and tartar are not removed, oral bacteria will seep into the gum line and erode the bone that supports the teeth. Once this occurs, it cannot be corrected with brushing and flossing alone.
Essentially, diagnosing gum disease consists of measuring the bone levels around each tooth. To do this, Dr. Goldstein will use a specialized dental instrument called a periodontal probe. By placing the probe between the tooth and the gum, he can determine how many millimetres of bone loss are present. Healthy teeth typically measure between one and three, while four millimetres denotes gingivitis. Anything that measures 5 millimetres or above is considered periodontal disease – the higher the number, the more advanced.
Mild to moderate gum disease can be addressed with nonsurgical treatments, such as scaling and root planing. This procedure is similar to a routine dental cleaning with your hygienist. However, local anesthesia will be administered so that the clinician can clean deep into the gum line. Using hand scalers and ultrasonic instruments, irritants below the gums will be flushed out, and the surfaces of the roots will be smoothed to dissuade further plaque from reattaching.
Unfortunately, if gum disease has progressed into advances periodontitis, scaling and root planing will not be helpful. To address advanced gum disease, periodontal surgery is often required. This involves making incisions in the gums and moving them back. Next, the infection around the teeth is eliminated. Once all surfaces are clean, the gums are repositioned and sutured into place.
Detecting gum disease early is the single most important aspect of prevention. When diagnosed in the early stages, long-term dental damage and bone loss can be avoided. In addition, dental cleanings and nonsurgical therapies are much more cost-effective than periodontal surgery. When gum disease is diagnosed and treated early, it can save you an immense amount of time, worry, and money.
To find out more about the types of gum disease treatment available at our Toronto, ON practice, schedule a consultation. You can call us at 416-224-8300 or contact us online anytime.