Adults and children are all prone to gum disease. As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47.2% of adults 30 or older suffer from gum disease, otherwise called periodontal disease. One significant problem with the disease is that it is virtually painless in the initial stages, allowing the infection to spread around the soft tissue surrounding the teeth without you noticing. When the disease goes untreated, the bacteria damages and effectively destroys connective tissues leading to teeth loss. If you begin experiencing signs of periodontal disease like swelling, bleeding, or tenderness in the gums, we at The Whittier Dentist are ready to examine your teeth and provide thorough treatment.
Definition of Gum Disease
Otherwise called periodontitis or periodontal disease, gum disease is a progressive inflammation or infection of the supporting and surrounding gum tissues and the underlying jawbone. The oral condition stems from acids and bacteria produced by tartar and plaque in the mouth. The toxins then irritate the connective tissues and, when left untreated, cause infection. If the condition is allowed to progress, it causes gum recession, creating pockets between the teeth and supporting gum tissue, leading to unstable teeth or teeth loss. Also, the disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults globally, so you should not take it lightly.
Gum Disease Causes
Periodontal disease develops when you fail to observe proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily for at least two minutes or go for routine dental checkups.
When you do this, plaque starts to accumulate around the teeth. After some time, it starts producing toxins, usually acids and bacteria, that irritate the gingival tissue. Once the bacteria implants itself in the soft tissue, it breeds and spreads, causing infection.
If you fail to notice the bacterial infection, it spreads deeper into the gum tissue, causing tooth and gum irritation. When the body responds and tries to fight the disease, you notice the gums receding. The periodontal pockets formed by the recession grow more profound, and this is when you begin to see your teeth falling off or unstable.
Apart from improper dental hygiene, you can develop gum disease due to other reasons. These causes are:
When you suffer from a severe disease that hinders sugar production in the body, like diabetes or kidney condition, you are at risk of developing infections, one of them being gum disease. Additionally, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found a connection between medical conditions like heart attack, diabetes and stroke, and periodontal disease. Again, when you have cancer or HIV, developing periodontal disease is likely because of the low immune system that bacteria can quickly attack.
Medications for Health Conditions
Another gum disease cause is medication. You risk developing oral health conditions like periodontitis when you are under medication. Medicines like Procardia, Adalat, and Dilantin cause overgrowth or abnormal gingival tissue growth, making you susceptible to bacterial infection and gum disease because you cannot observe your dental care routine.
Again, medications could lower saliva flow in the mouth, causing dry mouth syndrome. Saliva acts as a protective layer to the gums and teeth, and when its flow is minimal, the risk of bacteria attacking these areas is elevated, causing infection.
Senior citizens are at a higher risk of developing gum disease because of the dry mouth syndrome stemming from the natural reduction of salivary production.
Poor Functional Habits
Bad oral functional habits like teeth grinding or clenching increase the risk of gingival tissue damage, causing gingivitis.
Pregnancy, menopause, adolescence, and menstruation can cause hormonal changes that increase gum sensitivity, exposing you to gingivitis.
Stress is the leading cause of multiple illnesses, one of them being gum disease. When you are stressed, it becomes challenging for the body to fight off bacteria causing infections, exposing you to periodontal disease.
A poor or unbalanced diet weakens your body's immune system making it challenging to fight diseases like periodontitis.
You can develop gum disease because of the genetic makeup you inherited. A significant population with a particular genetic makeup is at an elevated risk of developing periodontal disease than others. If you want to know whether you belong to this group, you should consider taking a genetic test.
Gum Disease Types
Periodontitis has two major phases; gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the most common yet mildest form of periodontal disease. Usually, it is the early stages of periodontitis and causes mild inflammation of the gum tissues. Many people develop this disease in their lives, but because it is not signified with pain and bleeding, with proper oral hygiene habits, it is treatable.
Nonetheless, when you develop the condition and fail to seek treatment or brush and floss your teeth regularly, it progresses and causes major oral health problems. In the early stages, plaque in the mouth produces bacteria that breed and attack the gingival tissue causing inflammation. Although the conditions can cause gum swelling, redness, or bleeding, the teeth remain firmly embedded in the sockets because the connective tissue and the jawbone are still intact.
When you continue with your bad oral habits, the plaque building up around your gums produces acids that attack the enamel. After three days, the plaque hardens to form tartar or calculus along the gum line. Unlike plaque that can be removed through brushing and flossing teeth, tartar is hard to remove through regular cleaning. With time, the tartar causes gum irritation and inflammation, which causes gingivitis.
On the other end, periodontal disease occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. Here, the gums and bone recede, forming periodontal pockets. These pockets accumulate food debris which produces bacteria. The bacteria is the one that breeds, causing an infection that damages the jawbone and supporting tissue, leaving your teeth unanchored and loose. With time, the teeth begin falling off.
Gum Disease Warning Signs
When you develop gum disease, you will not begin to experience the symptoms immediately. The symptoms are gradual and gentle as you start by experiencing redness in the gums, puffiness, and tenderness. Sometimes, you can experience bleeding while brushing and a lousy breath that does not go away even after thoroughly brushing your teeth and using a strong mouthwash. This stage of the disease is what was described above as gingivitis.
When gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, the warning symptoms attack full force. You start developing pockets around the teeth when the gums begin to pull away or recede. Continued recession causes loose teeth and shifting. When teeth begin to move, you experience changes in your bite or how your partial dentures fit. Eventually, the teeth begin to fall out.
Gum disease can exhibit some warning signs. Nevertheless, the disease can be active in your mouth without any symptoms, primarily in its early stages. Therefore, The Whittier Dentist encourages you to schedule routine checkups with a dentist for evaluation. Most symptoms of gum disease are discovered during regular checkups, and if noticed early, the condition is reversible. You do not want the infection to spread to the surrounding gingival tissue and jawbone, causing damage. Even if you do not experience any periodontal disease symptoms, visit a dentist twice annually for a checkup.
Gum Disease Diagnosis at The Whittier Dentist
When you experience any of the gum disease warning signs mentioned above, you should contact us to schedule an appointment. Our experienced general dentistry practitioners will first conduct a thorough evaluation of your medical history to identify factors that could have contributed to the symptoms you are experiencing. Some of the factors that increase the risk of gum disease that we will be looking for include smoking, being on a specific kind of medication, or particular medical conditions that cause dry mouth syndrome or increase the risk of infection.
Once you are done with your medical history, the next step is to closely examine your mouth, looking for plaque or calculus buildup. If you have these in your mouth, chances are high you have gingivitis.
When the disease has advanced, we will measure the size of the pockets. An average mouth will have a periodontal pocket depth ranging from one to three millimeters. When the pockets between the gingiva tissue and the mouth are between four to six millimeters, you will be diagnosed with mild or moderate periodontitis. If the pocket depth exceeds 6mm, our dentists will diagnose you with advanced periodontitis.
Advanced gum disease means you have experienced significant bone loss. Your dentist will recommend an x-ray to determine the extent of the jawbone loss where the pockets are more profound.
We will then assign a stage and grade to your gum disease based on the severity, pocket depths, risk factors like medical conditions, and the complexity of the required treatment.
Gum Disease Treatment
Once we have accurately diagnosed you with gum disease, our periodontist, general dentist, or dental hygienists will perform the necessary treatment procedure based on the disease stage. The treatment is geared towards cleaning out the bacteria from the pockets to prevent further infection spread, destroying gingival tissue and the bone. Some of the treatments we at The Whittier Dentist recommend for our patients are highlighted below.
Healthy Oral Habits
You can treat gum disease by adopting good oral care routines to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Proper oral care involves brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice daily and flossing one or more times. If you have gaps in the teeth, we recommend using an interdental brush. However, when teeth spaces or gaps are smaller, you can use soft picks.
We recommend an electric brush for cleaning if you have arthritis or agility issues.
With proper dental care routines, you can reverse periodontal disease, although it also means that the condition will recur if you fail to observe healthy oral habits.
A preventive oral cleaning happens twice annually to remove plaque or calculus buildup in the mouth. It is critical to visit your dentist for this cleaning because typical toothbrushes cannot remove the buildup to prevent gum disease.
Our healthcare experts will use special tools to remove the buildup when you visit us for this procedure. The routine cleaning appointment is more critical when you have deeper pockets because the ordinary toothbrush will not reach the depth of the periodontal pockets to remove the buildup. Also, accessing the inside of these pockets can be extremely painful. However, with the help of our experts, we will numb the area with the pockets that need cleaning to alleviate pain during the cleaning, then use special tools to clean the periodontal pockets.
We apply root planing and scaling techniques when there is buildup below the gum line. Scaling involves the extraction of tartar and bacteria below the gums and tooth surfaces. We perform the procedure using hand tools like lasers or ultrasonic devices.
On the other hand, root planing focuses on smoothing rough tooth surfaces. The rough patches are removed to discourage further tartar and bacteria from lodging into these surfaces, elevating the risk of gum disease. Also, through smoothening of these surfaces, calculus and other bacterial byproducts that could have lodged in these areas are removed, eliminating the risk of delayed healing or inflammation.
The number of appointments for deep cleaning depends on the amount of tartar. You will require one or two appointments with your general dentist based on the buildup in your mouth.
Another way of treating gum disease is by administering antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. Again, medicated mouthwashes could help treat the condition. The medications we at The Whittier Dentist provide as a treatment for periodontal disease are:
When you have an acute or persistent bacterial infection in the pocketed areas of your gums, your dentist will administer an oral antibiotic in the form of a capsule or tablet for a short duration.
The antibiotic gel contains an antibiotic vital in bacteria control and shrinking periodontal pockets. We recommend this antibiotic if there are remaining pockets after scaling and panning.
Also administered after a scaling procedure, the antibiotic microsphere comprises fine particles of minocycline. The antibiotic is placed in periodontal pockets and slowly releases medication to control bacteria spread and reduce the pocket sizes.
Another medication that we recommend to reduce pocket sizes and control bacteria causing infections is the antiseptic chip. A small gelatin piece is placed in the periodontal pockets for a slow medication release.
Enzyme suppressant is taken orally as a pill after deep cleaning to delay enzyme release in the body, preventing gingival tissue breakdown. The medication contains doxycycline in low doses to check destructive enzymes.
When gum disease is advanced, routine cleaning and non-surgical treatment options will not reverse the condition. In these circumstances, we opt for surgical procedures like:
Pocket Reduction Surgery
Also called flat surgery, pocket reduction surgery is performed to extract tartar from deep periodontal pockets or reduce the size of the periodontal pocket to ease cleaning. The periodontist performing the procedure cuts part of the gingival tissue and lifts it back to expose the tooth root for deep cleaning. Sometimes, when gum disease has caused significant jawbone loss, the health professional strengthens it before suturing the gum tissue back into place. Once you recover from the procedure, the connective and supporting tissue holds tightly to the tooth, making it easier to clean and maintain healthy oral hygiene.
Bone and Tissue Graft
When your gum line recedes or the underlying jawbone is destroyed, we at The Whittier Dentist recommend grafting as a reinforcement technique. Small pieces of natural, synthetic, or donor bone are placed where the bone has been lost to enhance growth. Our dentists use the Guided Tissue Regeneration (GTR) to guide the regeneration of new bone and repair the one damaged by gum disease. The same procedure is applied in gum tissue grafting.
The medical professional conducting the procedure inserts a small material made of mesh between the gingival tissue and the bone to stop the gum from growing towards the bone, giving both the bone and the connective soft tissue time to regrow. Unique proteins or other growth factors can be used in bone and tissue grafting. One of these is the tissue-stimulating proteins that use a special gel containing proteins found in developing enamel. These proteins stimulate bone and tissue growth, reversing gum disease.
Similarly, soft tissue graft surgery is possible and is performed by extracting a part of your mouth roof and attaching it to the part exposed after a recession. If tissue from your palate is not possible, synthetic soft tissue can be used. The goal is to cover the exposed root and give you a flawless smile.
Whether the procedure succeeds or fails depends on you and how you adhere to post-operative instructions.
When the gum disease has become extremely severe to the extent of having missing teeth, your dentist will recommend dental implants for the already missing teeth.
Cost of Treatment
The cost of treating gum disease in Whittier, CA, varies based on disease stage and the kind of treatment, materials involved and the type of anesthesia required. On average, dental treatment costs range from $500 to $10,000. The prices of treatment are as follows:
- $30 to $75 for dental prophylaxis
- $140 to $210 for deep cleaning
- An average of $115 periodontal maintenance costs
- $75 per tooth for active periodontal therapy made up of a locally administered antimicrobial agent
Many factors affect the cost of treatment. These factors include:
- The technology used in the treatment
- Your dental insurance cover
- The dentist’s location
- The required treatment plan
Another factor affecting the cost of treatment is when your periodontist is working on each quadrant. One quadrant has an average price of $275 to $980.
When the periodontal disease is in its early stages, you do not need laser treatment. You should talk to your general dentist and determine whether the treatment is necessary. Nonetheless, the first procedure is deep cleaning, and after that, other decisions for additional treatment can be made.
As indicated earlier, medications or genetics can cause abnormal gingival tissue growth, resulting in gum disease. In cases like these, gums cover the entire teeth making it impossible to observe the regular dental care routine. When you come in for treatment with overgrown gums, you will part with a fee ranging from $50 to $350. If you have several front teeth with the condition, you will pay $1,000 to $3,000.
The cost of gum disease treatment can seem like a lot. However, the oral condition becomes an emergency when you have receding gums because the tooth root is more exposed, hindering you from eating hot or cold diets. Whether the cause is gum disease or any other source, you should arrange for treatment. At The Whittier Dentist, we encourage you to visit us for a free evaluation even if you are afraid you cannot afford the treatment. Once you are in our facility, we will estimate the cost of treatment and explore several financing options to make the treatment possible before it spreads and becomes irreversible. We have multiple payment plans and outside financing options you can explore for early treatment.
Maintaining Oral Health after a Gum Disease Procedure
Receiving gum disease treatment does not mean the oral condition will never recur. It is just a starting point for a lifetime journey. After the infection has been reversed, you must maintain a healthy routine for dental care.
Our general dentists can help you by arranging regular gum disease maintenance cleaning. With this periodontal maintenance, you must visit us three or four times annually for cleaning by a dental hygienist. During these visits, we will examine the depth of your periodontal pockets and the state of your gingival tissue before cleaning.
With regular cleaning, the disease will be controlled, and any other conditions that will arise will be identified early and arrested before becoming severe.
Find Profound General Dentistry Services Near Me
If you have questions or concerns about gum disease, we at The Whittier Dentist are ready to answer and guide you through treatment. Our friendly team of health professionals will schedule an appointment even on the same day and make you feel safe and comfortable when you reach out for consultation. Also, we have pocket-friendly financing options and payment plans that will ensure you receive the treatment you need and arrest the periodontal disease. Call us today at 562-632-1223 to arrange a meeting.