Dr. James Stewart is passionate about helping patients keep their natural teeth for life. Preventing or promptly treating tooth decay is one way to ensure good oral health, but did you know that the structures that support your teeth need just as much attention? Gum disease, also called periodontitis or periodontal disease, is the number one cause of adult tooth loss in the US, and your Livonia general dentist can help you avoid becoming part of this grim statistic.
What causes gum disease?
Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. Regular brushing and flossing can remove this substance before it causes harm to the teeth and gums. However, patients who do not clean their teeth frequently or thoroughly enough leave plaque behind, which eventually hardens into a substance called tartar. Once this hard calculus forms, it cannot be removed with a toothbrush. Tartar along the gum line irritates the gum tissue, causing its connection to the teeth to loosen. When this happens, periodontal pockets form, and these spaces collect oral bacteria that irritate and inflame the gums. If periodontal disease goes untreated, the gums and underlying bone tissue will break down, causing teeth to loosen and fall out.
How can I prevent gum disease?
Preventing gum disease comes down to maintaining meticulous oral hygiene. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once daily helps keep plaque to a minimum and prevents it from developing into tartar. Regular professional dental cleanings are another vital component of gum health. Seeing our skilled dental hygienist every six months ensures that tartar can be removed before it causes problems and that your teeth are polished to a smooth surface that is less hospitable to plaque bacteria. Our hygienist can also educate you about proper at-home cleaning techniques so that you can maintain these results long after you leave our office.
How is gum disease treated?
The early stages of periodontal disease can often be addressed with a deep cleaning, also known as scaling and root planing. Scaling consists of removing tartar and plaque from the tooth root, which is the area of the tooth that rests beneath the gum line. Root planing involves polishing and smoothing out the surfaces of tooth roots so that they are less likely to collect plaque and bacteria. Topical antibiotic therapy may also prove useful in treating the infected gum tissues. These conservative treatments are often enough to eliminate infection and allow your gums to reattach properly to the teeth. If your gum disease is more advanced, Dr. Stewart will refer you to a specialist called a periodontist for surgical treatment.
If you suspect you have periodontal disease or if you just need a routine cleaning, Dr. Stewart and our team can help. To schedule an appointment, contact our Livonia dentist office at (734) 425-4400. We serve patients from Livonia, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Novi, Dearborn, Redford, and the surrounding communities.