Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a serious oral health epidemic in the United States with more than 64 million people living with the condition. To put that number into perspective, research has shown that over half of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease—a condition that can cause infections, tooth loss, and even widespread inflammation. However, because most people don’t know what to look for, most cases of gum disease go unnoticed until they progress into more dangerous oral conditions.
IT’S IMPORTANT TO IDENTIFY GINGIVITIS
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and occurs when plaque and tartar build on the teeth and along the gumline, allowing bacteria to invade the gum tissues. To protect your health, the gum tissue responds by receding. Unfortunately, this recession can ultimately lead to instability of the teeth, and the invading bacteria can attack the periodontal ligament and your jawbone—causing tissue loss.
One of the reasons that gingivitis is so dangerous is that the early symptoms are fairly easy to ignore. Here are some of the signs of gingivitis, and when to make an appointment with Dr. Silberg.
SIGNS OF GINGIVITIS
- Soft, puffy, swollen gums
- Gum tissue that appears to be receding, or sensitivity along the gumline due to recession
- Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss
- Tender gum tissue that looks reddened
- Chronic bad breath
Because gingivitis can progress quickly, it is important to meet with Dr. Silberg at the first sign of trouble. As a periodontist and an authority on gum disease treatment, Dr. Silberg has the skills and experience necessary to reverse the early stages of gingivitis to keep your smile beautiful and healthy.
Long Term Effects of Periodontal Disease
The potential consequences of gingivitis and periodontal disease are more serious than a little gum recession or even oral decay. When oral infections spread through the mouth, bacteria can leach into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation throughout your entire body. Because of this, periodontal disease has been tied to serious and potentially fatal medical conditions, including heart disease and even some forms of cancer.
The good news is that periodontal disease is treatable—even in its later stages. Before your Pittsburgh gum disease treatment begins, Dr. Silberg will conduct a comprehensive periodontal evaluation, or CPE, where he will analyze the health of your teeth, gums, and bone tissue. If he finds evidence of gingivitis or periodontal disease, he will talk with you about your treatment options. Here are a few treatments you should be aware of.
If you have gingivitis or early periodontitis, non-surgical treatments might be enough to help your teeth and gums to return to health. Deep cleanings, antibiotic rinses, and dental scaling can help to clean out periodontal pockets and eliminate bacteria.
When the gums start to pull away from the teeth, pockets form between the tooth and the gum tissue. Over time, this tissue can become diseased and infected, compromising the health of your gums and the underlying bone. The goal of traditional gum surgery is to carefully excise the diseased tissue, clean and resurface the teeth, and to eliminate bacteria from inside the gingival pocket.
During traditional surgery, Dr. Silberg will make small incisions around the affected areas to lift the gum tissue and clean underneath the gumline. After the area is cleaned, the gum tissue will be replaced. Traditional gum surgery is highly effective, with a relatively easy recovery.
Another effective treatment for periodontitis is LANAP, or Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. During LANAP, a tiny periodontal laser probe is inserted into the gingival pockets, where the focused light gently removes diseased tissue while simultaneously disinfecting the area. LANAP can remove as much as 99.9% of bacteria from within the gingival pocket, and it can even kill bacteria as much as four millimeters below the gum tissue surface.
Unlike traditional surgery, which requires incisions, LANAP is stitch-free, which makes recovery much easier. LANAP is also a much quicker procedure than traditional gum surgery, which works better for people with busy schedules.
After LANAP, some patients experience sore or swollen gums, temporary color changes within the tissue itself, or a small amount of bleeding. However, simple over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications such as Ibuprofen are usually effective at controlling discomfort, and recovery is quick. To learn more about gum care after LANAP, click here.
While we will do our best to treat your gum disease, some of the damage of advanced gum disease is irreversible, causing a tendency toward re-infection. Dr. Silberg will talk with you about how to avoid problems in the future. Depending on the health of your teeth and other complicating factors, Dr. Silberg may recommend more frequent dental cleanings and periodontal evaluations. A proactive, tenacious approach to daily oral hygiene is also crucial to your ongoing dental health.
If you have questions about how to brush, floss, or rinse properly to avoid future periodontal disease, or about what you can do to address existing problems, make an appointment with your Pittsburgh periodontist, Dr. Silberg. Dr. Silberg and his entire team are dedicated to your overall health and happiness, which is why The Silberg Center for Dental Science is always pleased to offer a complimentary second opinion. Contact us today for details.