Here at Accent Smile Center, we’re committed to helping our patients achieve healthy, beautiful smiles that look and feel great. Periodontal disease can sometimes make that a challenge, but fortunately, we have the tools to help prevent and treat it! Our office is proud to offer multiple technologies that provide the best results with the least discomfort, including laser periodontal therapy. To learn more about what periodontal disease is, how it can affect you, and our innovative treatment methods, keep reading below!
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is more commonly referred to as gum disease. This infection is caused by a buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, and affects the tissues that surround and support your teeth. In addition, this causes a huge inflammation response that affects the gum tissue and support of the teeth. This allows the bugs to circulate through the blood stream to other areas of your body and can cause problems to other body systems. Even though periodontal disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults, up to 75% of Americans are dealing with some level of it and don’t even know! That’s because it’s often painless, especially in the earlier stages.
The stages of periodontal disease
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, and although you may notice red or swollen gums from time to time, there will typically be no obvious discomfort at this point. Gingivitis is most often caused by poor oral hygiene, and is reversible with professional treatment and a good dental hygiene routine. If you have any symptoms of gingivitis, get in touch with our office. The sooner you’re able to treat this early stage of periodontal disease, the better it will be for your oral health!
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Over time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line, and the toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque begin to irritate the gums. These toxins cause a chronic inflammatory response in which the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that can easily become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone continue to be destroyed. As destructive as this process is, it still tends to have only mild symptoms, so it’s important to know what to look for, and what preventative action you can take!
Signs and symptoms of periodontal disease
There can be many indications that gum disease is present, even if the signs are not always obvious. Some of the symptoms include:
- red, swollen, tender gums
- gums that bleed easily
- gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- persistent bad breath or bad taste in mouth
- permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- any change in the way the teeth fit together when biting
- any change in the fit of partial dentures
Although bacteria is almost always the underlying cause of gum disease, some risk factors can increase your chances of developing it, such as:
- poor oral hygiene
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- crooked teeth
- certain medications (steroids, certain anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives, for example)
You may be surprised to see crooked teeth in that list, but teeth that are crowded or misaligned are more difficult to keep clean than ones that are straight. If you would like more information on straightening your smile, click here to read about Six Month Smiles or here to learn about Clear Correct.
How Accent Smile Center can help treat periodontal disease
It’s important to understand the effects that untreated gum disease can have on both your oral and total body health! Periodontal disease can cause chronic inflammation of the gum tissue, an increase in disease-causing bacteria, and infections below the gum line. Several studies have also indicated that more severe gum disease may be associated with serious health conditions, such as diabetes, strokes, heart disease, and even osteoporosis.
If you have inflamed or bleeding gums, we recommend scheduling an appointment with Dr. Gatgens. During this visit, he will examine your teeth and if there are any signs of periodontal disease present, he will be able to advise the best dental treatment for you. This may be as simple as a deep cleaning or more complex treatment like dental implants to replace missing teeth. Another option is periodontal therapy.
The goal of periodontal therapy is to manage gum disease at the root by tackling the source of infection. Using this method, we’re able to target harmful bacteria that forms plaque and tartar, and also decrease the inflammation present making patients healthier. By restoring your oral health first, we can help halt the progression of gum disease. We’re also able to reverse prior damage by reattaching infected gum tissue to the teeth.
Traditional periodontal therapy is sometimes referred to as “scaling and root planing” or “root debridement.” This non-surgical procedure uses hand-held ultrasonic instruments to eliminate plaque buildup. This eliminates inflamed pockets between the teeth and gums and removes the bacteria that causes gum disease.
Laser periodontal therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional therapy, or on its own. or to supplement conventional periodontal treatment. This method does not require a scalpel or sutures, so it’s often less invasive and painful than more traditional therapy. Once we have removed the infected pockets, we agitate the healthy gum tissue in order to promote natural re-growth. This works with your body’s ability to regenerate gum tissue: when the gums naturally reattach to the teeth and bone, gum disease is less likely to reappear once it’s been treated!
There are several benefits to using laser periodontal therapy to treat the various stages of gum disease. These include:
- minimized pain, swelling, and discomfort
- minimal bleeding
- no incisions
- no need for stitches
- shorter healing time
- long-lasting results
If you’ve been suffering from the effects of periodontal disease, or suspect you might be, get in touch with our Dickson office today! Schedule an exam with Dr. Gatgens to see if laser periodontal therapy is right for you. Our expert team would love to work with you to reverse any current gum disease and prevent it from reoccurring in the future. Accent Smile Center is here to help you restore your oral health for a lifetime of beautiful, healthy smiles!