Gum Disease TreatmentHave you noticed blood on your toothbrush or in the bathroom sink after brushing and flossing? If so, you have almost certainly wondered what it means. Quite often, people will think they have brushed or flossed too hard and that the solution is to stop brushing so frequently. While it is possible to damage your gums by brushing too hard, it is far more likely your gums are bleeding because they are infected. In this case, brushing less often is the very worst thing you can do for your dental health. Instead, schedule an appointment to come and see us here at Ivory Dental in Sandpoint, Idaho so our experienced dentist Dr. Benjamin Hull can take a closer look at your gums because it is possible you have gum disease. This disease is extremely common, and it’s estimated nearly half of all American adults will develop some form of gum disease during their lifetime.

What is Gum Disease and How Does It Develop?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection and its proper name is periodontal disease. Everybody’s mouth contains many different strains of bacteria, most of which are harmless to your oral health, but a few strains can cause disease and infection if allowed to build up in the mouth. This is why it’s important to brush at least twice a day and to floss once-a-day. A good oral hygiene routine helps to remove the bacteria responsible for causing gum disease, greatly reducing your risk of developing this serious condition.

Recognizing the Early Signs of Gum Disease

As bacterial numbers increase, infecting your gums, your immune system will try to fight the infection, a response that causes inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes your gums to begin bleeding as your gum tissue becomes more fragile. Other symptoms of gum disease include bad breath, having a persistently nasty taste or noticing your gums look red and swollen and they might feel tender when lightly pressed. However, one of the huge problems with gum disease is that the early signs can be easily overlooked which is why this condition is often referred to as being a ‘silent’ disease. Lakeside Dental has said on the subject of recognizing the early signs of gum disease, "Often there is no pain associated with periodontal disease indicating a problem; that is why healthy habits are so important in maintaining a healthy smile."

Treating Gingivitis

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis and at this point, the disease is completely curable. Generally, once diagnosed, gingivitis can be treated quite easily. Normally, Dr. Hull will recommend you have your teeth professionally cleaned because this removes the buildup of tartar or calculus from your teeth and which contains the bacteria causing gum disease. Removing these bacteria will give your gums a chance to fight the infection more easily and effectively.

Afterward, it is vital to ensure your daily oral hygiene routine is the very best it can be. If needed, our hygienist can work with you to improve your brushing and flossing routines, by showing you new techniques and tools to try so you can quickly and easily clean your teeth. It is important to follow all the advice given and to thoroughly clean your teeth at least twice daily. Initially, your gums may continue to bleed slightly but as they get stronger and healthier any bleeding will cease. Within just a couple of weeks or so you should notice your gums look healthier and feel firmer. Ideally, healthy gums should be a nice pink color and will fit snugly around your teeth.

If you ignore or simply missed the early signs of gum disease then it will develop into periodontitis, a far more serious condition that requires much more extensive and often on-going treatment.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that gradually destroys gum tissue, the ligaments holding your teeth in their sockets and even the bone surrounding your teeth. Advanced gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss and perhaps what is even worse is that this condition can affect your general health.

By the time gingivitis has worsened into periodontitis, your gums may be bleeding more freely, and they will almost certainly look red and inflamed. You might also notice your teeth look longer than before or that your tooth roots have become exposed. This is because periodontitis causes gums to recede and they will pull away from your teeth, creating gaps or ‘periodontal pockets’ in between your gums and your teeth. These pockets create the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Unfortunately, these pockets are also very difficult to keep clean because an ordinary toothbrush cannot reach right inside them. Periodontitis is much more difficult to treat and may be chronic, meaning you will require ongoing dental treatment simply to keep it under control as it often cannot be completely cured.

How Is Periodontitis Treated?

The treatment required for periodontitis will depend on the progression of the disease and the extent of the damage caused to your gums and other structures surrounding your teeth. Just as with gingivitis, the aim of treatment is to reduce the bacterial infection, generally using a procedure that will deep clean your gums and any exposed tooth roots. This is called scaling and root planing and it’s a little like having a scale and polish but is designed to remove far more bacteria. Often scaling and root planing will be prescribed as an ongoing treatment and may be used in combination with other surgical and nonsurgical procedures.

One treatment we are likely to recommend is the use of laser therapy as this can be particularly effective when treating advanced gum disease. Using a state-of-the-art dental laser Dr. Hull can treat badly infected gums as the laser energy helps to sterilize treated areas, removing bacteria from deep inside the periodontal pockets. Any tissue that is too badly diseased to heal can be precisely removed with a dental laser. This treatment is quicker, more comfortable and aids faster healing. If you require more extensive periodontal surgery, then we may refer you to a periodontist to is a dentist specializing in gum health.

Numerous clinical studies have discovered a link between periodontitis and serious systemic diseases including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and heart disease so it is extremely important to look after your dental health. After advanced gum disease has been treated you will be provided with an ongoing maintenance program and it is extremely important to adhere to this program.

Preventing Gum Disease

The good news about gum disease is that it is preventable and it’s one of the reasons why we strongly recommend our patients see us regularly for checkups and professional dental cleanings. When you come to see us regularly we can closely monitor your dental health and can detect any slight changes that may not yet have caused any noticeable symptoms. During your regular checkups your gums are carefully assessed and are gently probed to measure any changes to their condition. Regular professional cleanings are a simple and very effective way to maintain good gum health and please don’t forget that our hygiene team is always very happy to offer advice and guidance on how to brush and floss correctly. Just ask us for help! With the correct dental care, you can maintain healthy gums, prolonging the life of your natural teeth while protecting your general health.