Periodontics, or gum care, is an essential component in a healthy smile. Hardened plaque, called tartar, can irritate gums and promote gingivitis, which is early-stage periodontal disease. Left untreated, this condition can escalate into periodontitis, the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. Gums do not regenerate or grow back. Once the gum tissue has been damaged or removed it will not restore itself. Gum grafting can be used to restore gum tissue, but gums cannot grow back once removed.
North Virginia Dentist, Dr. Myles will perform a comprehensive oral examination, and configure an optimal periodontal treatment plan, at his Reston, VA dental office, if your mouth shows signs of gum disease. He may recommend non-surgical periodontal treatment such as scaling to remove tartar below the gum line, root planing to smooth rough surfaces on tooth roots where tartar and bacteria build up, and Arestin antibiotic therapy to eradicate bacteria.
Treating Gum Disease in Reston VA
When gum disease is left untreated, what can start as gingivitis can advance into what is known as periodontitis. This “second stage” can leave patients with increased inflammation and bleeding gums, and no amount of brushing or flossing at home will treat it. To address the problem, Dr. Myles offers scaling and root planing to remove plaque and tartar build-up and encourage a tooth’s root to reattach to the gum tissue.
Saltwater rinse is a great way to help soothe gum sensitivity. Saltwater helps to heal inflammation and soothe swelling. It is helpful to use when undergoing periodontal treatment, but should not be used as a cure for gum disease by itself. Salt draws out infection, and warm water soothes any tender areas.
The time it takes to cure periodontal disease varies depending on the severity of the damage. It can take anywhere from a month to a year to heal. Sticking to a soft food diet while undergoing treatment may help speed up the process.
Dr. Myles can perform another method of periodontal treatment using soft tissue laser therapy, a minimally invasive alternative to traditional gum surgery. Patients with advanced periodontitis may be referred to a trusted periodontist for specialized care.
How Serious is Gum Disease?
Harmful bacteria can hide in your mouth, destroying gum tissue and teeth. Gum disease can lead to strokes, heart attacks, and pregnancy complications. Don’t think it’s your problem? Conservative estimates report that up to 80 percent of the population unknowingly has gum disease in some form.
Seventy percent of adult tooth loss is attributed to gum disease. Recent research shows a link between patients who have gum disease and those who suffer from strokes, heart attacks, or complications with diabetes or pregnancy. Gum disease is silent in that early symptoms may be painless and mild, like swollen gums or bleeding while brushing. Regular dental checkups are vital because a dental professional can detect, treat, and reverse gum disease in the early stages before major problems arise.
The Four Stages of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis: The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis causes gum bleeding and irritation. This stage progresses within about two weeks. If caught early this stage can be reversed by a regimented oral care routine. We recommend brushing and flossing twice a day to treat this stage of periodontitis.
Mild/Slight periodontal disease: In the second stage of gum disease, bone decay begins to occur. It may not be painful or noticeable but your gum disease is attacking your teeth and oral structure. Treatment can help prevent this stage from becoming worse and reaching a stage where the disease is irreversible.
Moderate periodontal disease: In the third stage of gum disease bone structure and gum tissue is being attacked and destroyed. Patients may notice that their teeth feel loose. This stage of periodontal disease is very hard to reverse, however seeking treatment is highly recommended so patients do not lose bone structure and so that the disease does not spread.
Advanced periodontal disease: The last stage of periodontal disease is when it is in its worst form. Patients may experience pain when chewing and speaking, and teeth may decay and need to be removed. Once the damage has progressed to this stage it cannot be reversed. If periodontitis is not treated at this stage, it may result in loss of teeth, bone deterioration, and heart disease if it reaches your bloodstream.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Several factors contribute to periodontal disease: plaque buildup, heredity, and lifestyle choices. By far, the most common and controllable factor is bacterial plaque, the sticky, colorless film produced by normal oral bacteria. Bacteria release toxins that break down the natural fibers that bond gums to teeth. When this occurs, pockets between the gums and teeth form, and more bacteria and toxins hide, flourish, and destroy your gums and teeth. Over time, this process can affect not only gums, teeth, and bone within the mouth, but also overall health. Bacteria in your mouth will be inadvertently ingested, and this can compromise your whole-body health.
Maintaining Good Oral Health
Regular dental visits at least every six months allow us to keep a watchful eye on the health of your gums. You should also brush twice a day, floss once a day, and use good mouth rinses at home. We will recommend the products that will optimize your oral homecare, and we can also show you the best methods for brushing and flossing. If you have overcome periodontal disease, we will recommend frequent checkups to ensure your mouth stays healthy for a lifetime.
Many patients fail to realize that their oral health affects their overall well-being. By offering periodontal therapy to all of our Northern Virginia patients who suffer from some form of periodontal disease, we can help them preserve the health of their smiles, augment the health of their gums, and improve their oral health. Contact Dr. Wayne Myles at our Reston dental office to find out more about your periodontal treatment options.
Gum Disease FAQs
What is plaque?
Plaque is a sticky substance that is constantly accumulating in your mouth. It can build up on your teeth which is the main reason we have to brush our teeth multiple times a day. Plaque is bad because it is loaded with bacteria. After you eat, especially carbohydrates and sugar, the bacteria in plaque will produce acid that will seriously harm your teeth and gums. This is how gum disease develops. Daily oral care will prevent plaque from harming your gums.
Can gum disease cause tooth loss?
Yes, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. It is actually the number one cause of tooth loss. Preserving your natural teeth requires daily oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. If you fail to do this, you will find yourself dealing with missing teeth eventually due to periodontal disease.
Is gum disease contagious?
While it is unlikely for a person to spread gum disease through casual, social contact, it is not impossible. Sharing saliva with a person who has periodontal disease means their bacteria is now in your mouth. This can occur through kissing, sharing utensils, eating from the same plate, or drinking from the same cup. The best way to prevent this is by brushing and flossing your teeth regularly and using mouthwash.
What is scaling and root planing?
These treatments are essential to treating gum disease and preventing it from coming back. Scaling is basically a deep cleaning where your dentist will use a special tool to remove plaque and tartar especially below the gum line. Root planing is where we will smooth out the teeth roots. This helps the gums reattach to the teeth.