One of the most common problems we see in our patients is periodontal disease, or as it is more commonly known, gum disease. In fact, gingivitis (the less severe form of gum disease) affects about 70% of the population. Periodontitis (the more severe version of gum disease) affects around 30% of adults over the age of 30.
While some people think that gum disease is not a big deal, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Studies have shown that patients with periodontal disease are more likely to suffer from the following:
- Red, swollen or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Loss of teeth
- (Patients with chronic periodontal disease are more likely to experience) coronary heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease
- Pregnant mothers are more likely to have their baby prematurely if they have gum disease
As you can see, periodontal disease is not something we should ignore. In this article, we’ll discuss treatment options and explore how dental implants and crowns can help patients recover from losing their teeth to periodontal disease.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is actually a chronic bacterial infection of the gums and the jawbone, which supports your teeth. If bacteria stays on your teeth for too long, it will create a sticky film called plaque, which eventually hardens to something called tartar (also known as calculus).
The plaque bacteria releases toxins that can damage the gums. The tartar can spread below the gum line, making it nearly impossible for patients to clean it themselves. Once below the gum, it can create pockets and encourage more plaque growth and more damage to the gums, creating a vicious cycle.
As more space develops between the teeth and the gums, the teeth become loose and become prone to falling out. Once tartar has built up under the gums, only a dental health professional can help you. Let’s discuss some of the treatment options for gum disease.
How to treat periodontal disease
The best way to stop periodontal disease is prevention. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing at least once a day play a major part. By quickly cleaning the bacteria and plaque off your teeth, you can prevent infections of the gums.
Even if you already have periodontal disease, you should know that the earlier it is treated, the easier it is to fix. Below are some ways you can help cure gum disease:
Scaling and Root Planing – This is a non-surgical treatment in which we would scrape and remove the plaque and tartar off your teeth and root surfaces. We then smooth away any roughness on the roots to prevent bacteria from gathering again. Depending on the level of infection, the procedure can take multiple visits and we will always want to follow up to ensure the gums are attaching properly to your teeth again.
Pocket Reduction Procedure – The next level of treatment is surgical. Your dentist will need to fold back the gums, then remove any infectious bacteria and smooth the areas of damaged bone. This will allow the gum tissue to reattach to healthy bone.
Gum Grafts or Bone Grafts – If your gums have receded too much, we can perform a gum graft. This procedure involves taking gum tissue from your palate and using it to cover the roots of one or more teeth. This helps reduce sensitivity, decay, and looseness of teeth. In the same way, bone grafting is a surgical procedure in which we use bone from other parts of your mouth to promote the growth of jawbone that was destroyed by periodontitis.
Meticulous Home Care – The procedures listed above are not enough on their own. Once your dental care provider has cleared the gum disease, you must make every effort to take care of your teeth. Flossing, brushing your teeth, using good mouthwash, and eating right can help prevent the return of periodontal disease.
Replacing teeth with implants and crowns
If you’ve lost teeth due to periodontal disease, don’t worry; you don’t have to live your entire life with a large gap in your smile or with removable dentures. Dental implants and crowns provide a viable way to replace missing teeth.
Once we have done everything we can to treat periodontal disease, we can begin replacing your missing tooth (or teeth). We start by placing a biocompatible titanium screw (this is the actual dental implant) into your gums and jawbone. This implant becomes your new tooth’s root.
The implant will need time to fuse with your jawbone, but once that is complete, we can place the crowns. Each crown is customized to match the look, shape, color, and feel of your natural teeth. You’ll struggle to tell the difference! If you’re interested, you can read more about our dental implant process.
You might be wondering, won’t I just lose my implant the same way I lost my tooth from periodontal disease? Fortunately, research shows that the survival rates of implants were high in individuals with a history of periodontitis-associated tooth loss. Implants also carry the benefit of not decaying or getting cavities, and they help keep your jawbone strong.
If you have periodontal disease, you need to go see your dentist right away. Gum disease often doesn’t begin to hurt until it is too late, and by then, the damage may be irreversible. Gum disease can also cause severe health problems in the rest of your body as well, such as heart disease and diabetes.
If you’ve already lost a tooth due to gum disease, then you can rest assured knowing that dental implants present a viable replacement.
No matter how severe your gum disease is, we are here to help at Blevins Dentistry. Dr. Blevins is an accomplished dentist with experience and knowledge in treating periodontal disease and providing patients with top quality implants and bridges.
We serve patients from all over South Carolina in our Mullins office, and we’d love to serve you as well. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.