What is gum disease?
More correctly called periodontal disease, this can start as inflamed and bleeding gums (gingivitis), and progress all the way to infection and extensive bone loss around the teeth (advanced periodontitis). If allowed to progress unchecked, periodontal disease will result in losing teeth, even though they may have never had a cavity.
Periodontal disease is most often seen with buildup of plaque and calculus (“tartar”) on the teeth. The bacteria and toxins in the calculus, in turn, cause an inflammatory response in the bone and tissue. As these tissues are damaged/lost over time, it becomes harder to keep the area clean, and a vicious circle develops. Some people are naturally more prone to periodontal disease. General health, diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, etc., are also factors.
What can we do to treat gum disease?
Priority one is a thorough cleaning to get rid of all the plaque, calculus and bacterial toxins. We sometimes have to freeze areas where deeper cleaning is required. Our hygienists have training and are licensed to administer local anaesthesia. In severe cases, the dentist may have to open the gums up surgically to get the teeth thoroughly cleaned in an attempt to save them.
Once the areas are cleaned, we will make sure that you are able to clean things thoroughly at home. We may also disinfect the area with a laser or use certain antibiotic therapies and rinses to keep things healthy. Sometimes we will also reshape the teeth or gums to allow easier cleaning.
What is bacterial DNA testing?
In some cases that do not respond to conventional therapy, we will test your mouth to try to determine the amount and types of “bad” bacteria and yeast organisms present. Sometimes we can use a targeted medication protocol based on your test results that can help with your treatment. Interestingly the company that does this testing, OraVital, is based in Canada, and they have some information about the process on their website.
How can I prevent gum disease?
Most cases are preventable with good home care, especially flossing, along with regular professional cleanings and a healthy diet and lifestyle.
What is a gingival graft?
Another common periodontal treatment is a graft of soft tissue and/or bone to rebuild missing areas of the peridontium. For example, if you have recession and the roots of your teeth are showing, sometimes we will do a minor surgery to try to put the gums back where they belong. The goal is to reduce tooth sensitivity and extend the life of the teeth.
What is an periodontist?
A dental specialist with advanced training in periodontal treatment is called a periodontist. Sometimes we will refer you to an periodontist if you have an unusually challenging case.