What Is Gum Disease?
Your mouth harbors various types of bacteria. Many of these microbes are essential for oral health, but if harmful bacteria accumulate on your teeth, they will gradually spread to your gums. During the initial, reversible stages of gum disease (gingivitis), you will suffer minor gum inflammation and slight bleeding. However, as bacteria multiply, they will create pockets in your soft tissues.
Without treatment, these pockets can expand. Then the gums will begin to pull away from your jaw bone and tooth roots. Symptoms of this advanced stage (periodontitis) include increased bleeding, gum recession, tooth loss, noticeable tooth sensitivity, and bone recession. Periodontitis is not reversible, though proper care can keep it from progressing.
Periodontal Treatment Options
Preventative care is the most effective treatment for gum disease. For optimal oral health, you should maintain a routine check-up with Dr. van Zyl every six months. If you have already been diagnosed with gum disease, we may recommend more frequent visits.
During your regular check-up appointment, Dr. van Zyl and your hygienist will remove the bacteria that cause periodontitis with a thorough cleaning. We will also check for early signs of gum disease so that we can begin treatment long before serious oral health damage occurs. Oral bacteria can spread from your teeth to your gums. Therefore, if you have a cavity or dental infection, Dr. van Zyl will recommend appropriate care, such as a dental filling or root canal therapy.
If you have already developed gingivitis, a routine cleaning can usually reverse this condition. However, if the disease has progressed to periodontitis, you may need a deep cleaning. This procedure is sometimes called scaling and root planing, and involves eliminating bacteria from your gums. Dr. van Zyl will also smooth rough spots on your dental roots, since uneven patches can trap microbes. This step helps in preventing bacteria from returning. In some cases, Dr. van Zyl may administer antibiotics during your deep cleaning.
The Importance of Periodontal Care
In addition to compromising your smile, gum disease can have serious consequences on your systemic health. Researchers have linked periodontitis to an increased risk for heart attack and stroke.
Some scientists believe that oral bacteria contribute to the development of blood clots. As microbes enter the bloodstream, they may adhere to fat cells, eventually blocking arteries. Other researchers speculate that bacteria cause blood vessels to become hardened or inflamed, restricting blood flow.
As yet, the exact connection is unclear. However, it is safe to say that periodontal care is highly beneficial for your oral and overall health.