Gum Disease is a common dental problem that is usually the result of poor dental hygiene. If gingivitis or periodontitis is present, it is imperative to immediately get treatment to rectify the issue, as well as a rededication to vigilant brushing and flossing.
What is Gum Disease?
Most people begin to notice gum disease when the tissues that surround the teeth (the gums) are bright red, bleeding, inflamed, or swollen. Gum disease starts when stray pieces of food mix with saliva and bacteria in your mouth to form dental plaque. This plaque sticks to the surface of teeth and continues to grow unless it is removed. If plaque is not removed by normal brushing and flossing, it can harden and turn into tartar, which provides an ideal surface for more plaque growth and accumulation.
Tartar is very difficult to remove with normal brushing and flossing and its continued growth can lead to further irritation of the gums (also known as gingivitis). As plaque begins to grow under the gum line, your body begins an immune response to combat the invading plaque and tartar (similar to your body’s reaction when you cut your finger). This response can inadvertently lead to damage to the underlying jawbone that supports your tooth. This bone destruction is called periodontitis. The beginning stages of periodontitis are mildly symptomatic.
What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
There are various signs and symptoms that announce the presence of gum disease. However, most people do not experience any pain or discomfort until it becomes severe. While each case is different, typically an individual with gum disease will have one or more of these symptoms:
Red, swollen, or tender gums
Gums that bleed easily
Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth
Loose teeth or separating teeth
Pus between your gums and teeth
A bad taste in the mouth or a persistent bad breath
Sores in the mouth
Gum Disease Treatment
The first step in any treatment of gum disease is to figure out if there are any lifestyle factors that can be contributing to the disease, and if so curb those habits immediately. For example, a risk factor for gingivitis is smoking, so anyone diagnosed with gum disease should quit smoking immediately. Other risk factors can include but are not limited to diabetes, aging, genetics, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and possible medication use.
The next step is removing any plaque and tartar that have built up around the teeth over time. This may involve a deep cleaning to clean underneath the gumline. Once the cleaning is complete, a reevaluation is performed one month later to determine whether a patient can maintain their gum health by rigorous brushing and flossing and regular hygiene visits with the dentist.
In some cases, gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease, and if this is the case further treatment is needed.
Laser Treatment for Gum Disease
Laser treatment is a very effective way to treat gingivitis. A soft tissue laser is aimed at the gum pocket, working to eliminate bacteria that is nestled deep within the periodontal pocket. Laser treatment for gum disease will also remove damaged and unhealthy tissue, along with helping to stimulate the healing process.
Black Gum Disease Treatment
Black gum disease is very different from standard gingivitis, as it can progress quickly from minor to serious and requires immediate treatment. Also known as necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis or periodontitis, black gum disease goes beyond a standard infection, as it kills your own gum tissue. The black tissue that is visible is dead tissue. The best treatment for black gum disease is to manage pain while effectively removing the dead tissue. This treatment will be aided by a series of antibiotics to fight the disease.
If you think you or your loved one may have gum disease, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Galviz at 361-992-3873, she will help you to choose the technique that is best for you during the consultation visit.