There are a variety of issues that make an individual more susceptible to developing gum disease, including smoking, hormone variations, dry mouth, genetics, and poor oral hygiene. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and will often progress into periodontal disease if not treated. Seeking gingivitis treatment early on can prevent the disease from progressing to periodontitis, which could lead to receding gums and tooth loss.
How Do I Get Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by poor oral hygiene and plaque build-up. Plaque is a naturally-occurring, sticky, nearly invisible biofilm that is filled with bacteria. There are other causes of gum disease, like hormone changes or genetic predisposition as well. The early stages of gum disease are considered to be gingivitis, which can progress into periodontal disease, or periodontitis if left untreated.
Since gingivitis is frequently painless if you notice that your gums appear red and swollen, schedule an appointment for an examination right away with a dentist who knows how to treat gingivitis.
How to Treat Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, but should still be taken seriously. Seeking treatment for gingivitis right away usually prevents the disease from progressing. Gingivitis does not usually cause permanent bone or tissue loss if treated, and any gum irritation can be reversed if treated early on. Treating gingivitis is easier than treating periodontal disease. Once gingivitis has set in, the goal is to eliminate the inflammation that is causing the bright red, bleeding gums that accompany gum disease. You can work at home and with your dentist to treat your gingivitis. The following can treat gingivitis:
- Improve Your Oral Hygiene Routine at Home — Your dentist will typically recommend an antibacterial toothpaste and mouthwash to use at home to keep bacteria from affecting your gum tissues. Brushing twice a day, as well as flossing daily will help keep plaque from building up any further on your gum line.
- Professional Deep Cleanings — Dental hygienists have the tools and experience to clean teeth and gums thoroughly. Going to the dentist for a professional cleaning will help treat gingivitis, and give your dentist a chance to monitor your oral health for progress or deterioration.
Treating Periodontal Disease or Periodontitis
Periodontal disease is the result of untreated gingivitis and can cause receding gums and other irreversible damage that often leads to tooth loss. While improving your oral hygiene routine at home can help get rid of gingivitis, this alone can’t treat periodontitis. Periodontal pockets, or gum pockets, are common with periodontal disease, and can cause severe infection and tooth loss if left untreated. Professional assistance is always needed for this advanced stage of gum disease, and may dentists specialize in periodontal treatment. Treatment for periodontal disease include:
- Root Planing — Root planning is part of the deep cleaning dental process to remove bacteria, tartar, and plaque. Root planing works by removing the bacterial products of gum inflammation and smoothes the root surface. This discourages additional bacteria and tartar buildup, allowing your gums to heal.
- Scaling — Scaling removes the bacteria and tartar from the surfaces of the teeth and from beneath the gums. Combined, scaling and root planing can effectively treat periodontal disease. Both procedures are performed at dentist offices with specific tools and technology.
- Medications — Because periodontitis can cause oral infections, some cases can also be treated with oral or topical medication.
- Antibiotic Gels — Placed into the pockets around the teeth following a deep cleaning procedure, the gel works by slowly releasing antibiotic medication.
- Oral Doxycycline — Antibiotic that inhibits bacterial tissue damage by suppressing certain enzymes.
- Antibiotic Microspheres — Microspheres control the bacteria and decrease the size of the bacteria filled periodontal pockets. These small round particles (microspheres) contain minocycline, which is an antibiotic similar to doxycycline. Microspheres are inserted into the pockets after a scaling and root planing treatment.
The only way to prevent plaque buildup on your teeth and gums is to implement an oral hygiene regimen and follow it every day. In addition to a sufficient oral hygiene routine, you should always schedule annual cleanings and dental exams to maintain optimal oral health. If you think you have gum disease, you should begin treatment to avoid your gingivitis progressing into periodontitis. Gum disease is common, and should always be addressed as soon as possible to keep your smile bright and healthy.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.