A Closer Look at Gum Disease and Its Treatment

gum disease sequenceMany people think of gingivitis (the inflammation of the gums) when they hear about gum disease. Unfortunately, gingivitis may only be the tip of the iceberg if gum disease is allowed to develop. You see, gingivitis has a habit of lingering in the body, allowing it to progress into a more damaging form of gum disease called periodontitis. Your Livonia dentist, Dr. James Stewart, therefore, encourages his patients to do all that they can to prevent gum disease from developing, as periodontitis can wreak havoc on the mouth, eventually causing tooth loss.

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Patients with gingivitis may experience red, swollen, and irritated gums. However, if they do not take action, these symptoms may quickly become much worse. As a response to the bacteria that cause gingivitis, the body produces anti-inflammatory molecules known as IL-10. These molecules interfere with the body’s immune response to gingivitis-causing bacteria, allowing them to linger and gum disease to progress. When periodontitis develops, it poses a threat to the tissues and ligaments that support teeth. As these important underlying structures decay, teeth will loosen, causing them to shift. Eventually, they may fall out or require extraction. Above the surface of the gums, noticeable symptoms may include bleeding gums, loose teeth, shifting teeth, tooth loss, persistent bad breath, and the detachment of gum tissue from teeth to form periodontal pockets.

Treating and Preventing Gum Disease

Treatment for gum disease depends upon how far the disease has progressed. Gingivitis may only require one or more thorough dental cleanings and an improvement in homecare. Periodontitis, on the other hand, may require a combination of antibiotics and periodontal cleanings. Generally involving two procedures—scaling and root planing—periodontal cleanings remove harmful bacteria from the periodontal pockets to encourage the gums to reattach to the teeth. Scaling refers to removing tartar from beneath the surface of the gums, while root planing refers to a process by which portions of teeth’s roots are smoothed to encourage a more successful reattachment of gum tissues to teeth.

Before treatment becomes necessary for gum disease, however, your Livonia dentist, Dr. Stewart, encourages his patients to embrace preventive care against gum disease. Prevention entails thorough homecare and frequent dental cleanings, all of which remove gum disease-causing bacteria from the vicinity of the gums. By implementing a thorough preventive care regimen, you can save yourself from the many struggles caused by gum disease, preserving your oral health.

About James Stewart, DDS: James Stewart, DDS is an experienced and respected dentist serving patients from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, and Garden City. Patients can contact Dr. Stewart by calling (734) 425-4400 to schedule an appointment or a consultation.