Gingivitis is a painless infection of the gums that starts out as plaque, an opaque film on the teeth, that hardens to form tartar or calculus. The plaque (bacteria and food debris) and/or calculus that sits on the teeth provides an environment which allows bacteria to thrive and multiply. This bacteria causes the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. These early warning signs become more noticeable when you brush your teeth, floss, or sometimes when you eat. The bacteria involved in gingivitis attacks the soft tissue of the gums surrounding the teeth. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal or gum disease and doesn't involve bone loss around the teeth. Pregnant women are at an increased risk of developing pregnancy gingivitis so routine dental hygiene visits are key if you are expecting.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue that left untreated, will progress to periodontitis and eventually tooth loss. The treatment for gingivitis is simple and performed right in your dentist’s office with help from your dental hygienist. Gingivitis is easily treated by having the hygienist scale and polish the teeth. Scaling is the removal of the dental calculus and bacteria from the tooth surface typically without any numbing required. However, some patients may prefer numbing if the gums are very tender to touch in order to remove the deposits causing inflammation at the gum line.
Periodontal (gum) disease
Left untreated, gingivitis will progress to periodontitis which ultimately destroys the tissue surrounding your teeth AND the bone that holds your teeth in place. Except for bad breath and gums that bleed during brushing or flossing, there are very few early warning signs. Periodontal disease advances silently, often without pain, and before you know it, you are losing your teeth and you don't know why.
Tooth loss is only the most obvious indicator of periodontal disease and doesn't appear until the end stages of the disease process. Scientific research has discovered links between periodontal (gum) disease and stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. When your gums become diseased from bacteria, your entire immune system is weakened due to trying to fight off the infection that can be easily removed with a routine dental cleaning and scaling.
The treatment for periodontal disease can be performed in the dental office with a procedure called scaling and root planing. The difference between scaling and root planing is simple. Scaling is the removal of the dental calculus from the tooth surface, while root planing is the process of smoothing the root surfaces and removing the infected tooth structure. Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure; however the dentist will use an anesthetic to numb the areas of the mouth to be treated for complete comfort while the hygienist removes the calculus/tartar and bacteria from below the gum tissue and the infected root surfaces. In advanced cases, oral antibiotics can be helpful in decreasing the bacteria in the mouth prior to the procedure. Scaling and root planing or a deep cleaning is usually broken down into one or two sections of the mouth per appointment. This allows for adequate healing time and reduces the time for each appointment. Warm salt water rinses or prescription antibacterial mouth rinses will be recommended after the procedure to help the gums heal in addition to increased oral hygiene at home.
It is no secret that dentists are committed to saving teeth. This is why we fill a cavity, instead of pulling the tooth.
Cavities can decay the tooth to the point where a restoration is virtually impossible without a procedure called crown lengthening. Crown lengthening is a routine surgical procedure, which remodels the contour of the gum line and underlying bony architecture. This procedure does not actually lengthen the crown, but rather lowers the gum line so more tooth structure is present to work with to fix a tooth. When there is not enough tooth structure to affix a crown, this is the only option! Sometimes a tooth has been broken below the gum line. In this instance, crown lengthening is very successful in exposing more of the tooth structure, so that the dentist has something to work with and a more favorable outcome for the patient.
Loose teeth are uncomfortable, especially when you try to eat food or chew gum. The feeling of the tooth pulling away from the gum is enough to send chills down your spine. It seems like an eternity, waiting for either the tooth to become loose enough to be extracted or strong enough to no longer be a problem.
Teeth become loose because of lost gum tissue and bone from periodontal disease, injury, orthodontic treatment, or pressure caused by tooth misalignment. A new technique called periodontal splinting attaches weak teeth together, turning them into a single unit that is more stable and stronger than the individual teeth by themselves. The procedure is most commonly performed on the front teeth. The procedure is as simple as using composite material to attach, or splint, the loose teeth to the adjoining stable teeth. Tooth splinting is a common procedure that has gained popularity due to its effectiveness.
Life is too short to live with loose teeth!
Sometimes the effects of periodontal disease create permanent changes in the tooth and gum structure that can cause issues in the future. Removing the plaque and infected gum tissue leaves a pocket between the gum and the tooth. Sometimes the gum returns to its original position, but still the pocket is present. The pocket requires more frequent cleanings as the patient is unable to get to the depth of the pockets with regular brushing and flossing. Enlarged gum pockets between the tooth and the gum line are common after having advanced gum disease. Sometimes these gaps are cosmetic in nature, and affect the appearance of the gums. More commonly, the gaps put the teeth at future risk for tooth and gum disease, as they are just one more place that plaque and bacteria can collect.
Osseous surgery or pocket reduction surgery is designed to thwart the after effects of periodontal disease and restore your mouth to a healthy state. The goal of periodontal surgery is to gain access to the tooth root and surrounding bone to clean and recontour the damaged areas. Once the dentist can visually see the damage, it can be removed completely. The goal is to reduce the periodontal pocket between the tooth and gum tissue so it can be cleaned and maintained with daily flossing and brushing.