Gums & Periodontal Disease

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Gums and Periodontal Disease Antelope Creek Family Dentistry in Lincoln, Nebraska

Gum infection can affect your overall health!

The term “periodontal” means “around the tooth.” Therefore, periodontal disease affects the gums and bone supporting the teeth. Gum, or periodontal, disease can cause inflammation, tooth loss and bone damage. The infection starts when the gums become inflamed due to bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that forms on your teeth. While this is often the main cause of periodontal disease, other factors can also be attributed to affecting the health of the gums and bone, including:

  • Smoking or Tobacco Use
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Medications
  • Diabetes
  • Poor Nutrition

Periodontal disease comes in many forms. Gingivitis is perhaps the mildest form of gum disease. While the gums become red, swollen and bleed easily, there is very little to no discomfort associated at this stage of the disease. Through a good oral hygiene regimen and treatment from your dentist, the results of gingivitis can be reversed.

Periodontitis is another form of periodontal disease and can be aggressive or chronic. Aggressive periodontitis displays rapid bone destruction and attachment loss in clinically healthy patients. Chronic periodontitis is one of the most common forms of periodontal disease and is frequently seen in adults. The stages progress slowly and can be recognized by gum recession and pocket formation.

Prevention

Good oral hygiene and regular visits with your dentist can prevent periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing can keep plaque to a minimum and, in conjunction with professional cleanings 2-4 times a year, can keep your teeth healthy for life.

Treatment

Even when periodontal disease is in a fairly advanced stage, it is possible to improve or even reverse the condition with non-surgical procedures. We have a skilled team of four hygienists who have over 50 years of combined experience in treating periodontal disease. Depending on the type of periodontal disease and its severity, one of these approaches may be suggested by Drs. Svoboda, Treat and Hedlund.

Scaling

This process can be done above or below the gum line and involves the scraping and removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) from the tooth. Scaling done at regular teeth cleanings usually involves the crown of the tooth. However, in more extreme circumstances, it is necessary to go further below the gum line to thoroughly remove disease-causing bacteria and its by-products on the root surface. In very advanced cases, flap surgery or gingivectomy may be necessary to allow the doctor free access to the infected tooth root.

Planing

After the thorough cleaning of the tooth surface has been completed above and below the gum line, the root of the tooth undergoes a process called planing. This is a process of smoothing the root of the tooth so that any remaining tartar is removed. This also serves two other purposes: it clears away any rough areas that bacteria below the gum line thrive in, and it makes it much easier for the gingival (gum) tissue to re-attach itself to the tooth, effectively reducing the size of the pockets that the plaque and bacteria hide in. This re-growth of tissue is key in stopping a recurrence of gum disease and happens very quickly once the calculus has been removed.

Surgical Procedures

In certain cases, periodontal surgery may be recommended to treat periodontal disease when non-surgical treatment is ineffective. We may advise procedures such as pocket reduction, soft tissue grafts or bone regeneration to treat periodontal disease. If a tooth has been lost due to periodontal disease, dental implants are always an option for permanent tooth replacement.

With any of these procedures, your dentist may prescribe you either local or systemic antibiotics and a specially indicated mouth rinse.

Specialists

A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of periodontal disease, as well as dental implant placement. All periodontists are general dentists, but they receive additional training of up to three years after dental school to obtain the necessary education to perform procedures in periodontics. If you have a more advanced case of gum disease, Drs. Svoboda, Treat and Hedlund may refer you to a periodontist.