Dr. Wayde Fawcett—our experienced dentist—offers a broad range of periodontal treatments using advanced technology and effective techniques. If left untreated, periodontal (gum) disease can seriously damage the gums and teeth and, in extreme cases, result in tooth loss. Thankfully, gum disease can be treated. At the Fawcett Center for Dentistry, periodontal disease can be diagnosed, and a treatment plan can be customized based on the severity of your condition.
- What Is Gum Disease?
- Gum Disease Prevention
- Gum Disease Symptoms
- Gum Disease Stages
- Gum Disease Causes
- Gum Disease Diagnosis
- Periodontal Disease Treatment
- Oral-Systemic Health Connection
When you come in for a dental exam, our staff will evaluate your gingival health and measure the gum pockets around each tooth to determine if you are at risk for periodontal disease. When gingivitis or periodontal disease is discovered, Dr. Fawcett may suggest advanced periodontal treatments to prevent advancement of infection and restore oral health.
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, occurs when inflammation and infection arise in the gums and bones around teeth. Plaque buildup along and below the gumline harbors dangerous bacteria that causes gum disease. As plaque accumulates over time, deep pockets can form between the gum tissue and the teeth. These pockets allow bacteria to proliferate, which can irritate the gums, spread infection, and threaten dental health.
Common signs of periodontal disease include gum recession, loose teeth, and pain when chewing. The earliest stage, gingivitis, typically features red, swollen gums that may bleed when brushing your teeth. Untreated gingivitis can lead to a more serious stage called periodontitis. According to the American Dental Association, periodontal disease is fairly common, with many adults experiencing some form of the condition. The chances of developing periodontitis also increase with age.
Severe gum disease has been linked to heightened risks of life-threatening conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and many others.
How Can I Prevent Gum Disease?
To prevent gum disease from developing, you should practice good oral hygiene, with regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. Ideally, a combination of effective daily dental hygiene and regular cleanings should keep plaque at bay; however, it is common for adults to require additional treatment to eliminate plaque, remove calculus (hardened plaque), and prevent the development or progression of gum disease.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can be indicated by the following symptoms:
- Red, inflamed, or sensitive gums
- Bleeding gums (may be most evident during brushing and flossing)
- Enlarged gum pockets between the gum tissue and teeth
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Gum recession
- Shifting teeth and changes in bite
- Loose permanent teeth
- Permanent tooth loss
- Pus discharge along the gumline and/or between teeth
- Change in the fit of partial dentures
“Dr. Fawcett and his entire staff are all professional, on top of their game, and very people oriented. Thank you, Fawcett Center for Dentistry for the many years you have helped me stay on top of my dental hygiene”
What Are the Different Stages of Gum Disease?
Dentists generally recognize three stages of periodontal disease:
- Stage One: Gingivitis. Gingivitis refers to the red, inflamed gums we mentioned earlier. If you notice bleeding, a red ring around your gums, or burning pain when you brush, gingivitis may be the culprit. Gingivitis should be treated before the periodontal disease advances to the next stage, which is irreversible.
- Stage Two: Periodontitis. At this stage, the bacteria caused by gingivitis begins to seep into the soft tissue and bone around the gums. In other words, there’s a divide (or pocket) between the teeth and gums caused by bacteria that, while treatable, cannot be completely cured.
- Stage Three: Advanced periodontitis. Your gums have sustained permanent damage, and your teeth are officially infected with the same bacteria. As a result, if treatment isn’t performed imminently, gums may recede noticeably, teeth may loosen and detach from their sockets, and you run the risk of developing a plethora of correlated health problems.
What Causes Gum Disease?
There are many factors and conditions that can contribute to the development of gum disease, including:
- Teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism)
- Poor dental hygiene
- Lack of dental care
- Use of tobacco products
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy or puberty)
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Certain medications and medical treatments
How Is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
Fortunately, gum disease is usually easy to diagnose. This is one of the many reasons it’s essential to attend regular dental exams; if you’re experiencing signs of gingivitis, an experienced dentist can stop it in its tracks.
Make sure to mention any pain or abnormal bleeding to your dentist. They will take this into consideration when examining your gums for inflammation. Your dentist will also make sure there’s no divide between your tooth and gums, as a pocket indicates the development of periodontitis.
What Are My Periodontal Disease Treatment Options?
Effective prevention and treatment of periodontal disease starts with regular dental exams and cleanings. Professional dental cleanings are the only way to remove hardened plaque (called calculus) from the teeth. During exams, Dr. Fawcett will perform a thorough evaluation of the teeth and gums to detect any signs of decay or disease. If he sees any of the signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease, it is best to follow through with preventative care and/or treatments immediately to arrest progression of the condition. Depending upon the type and extent of gum disease you are exhibiting, Dr. Fawcett may perform non-surgical treatments at his office or possibly refer you to a trusted periodontist for advanced treatments.
Scaling and Root Planing
One common non-surgical treatment that Dr. Fawcett may suggest is called scaling and root planing. During this procedure, plaque and calculus buildup is removed from below the gumline in the pockets surrounding the teeth. Laser dentistry may be used to cleanse the periodontal pockets. The tooth root is then planed to help the gum tissue reattach to the tooth, reducing the depth of the pocket. In some cases, antibiotics are applied to deep pockets to control bacteria and facilitate healing.
Biofilms formed by clusters of bacteria in the gumline can be particularly persistent, even after undergoing treatments to remove them. In order to prevent the re-formation of biofilm after scaling and root planing, Dr. Fawcett may recommend PerioProtect®. Customized PerioProtect® trays apply several prescription strength solutions to the gums to manage biofilm. The trays only need to be worn for a few minutes each day to be effective.
What Is the Oral-Systemic Health Connection?
There is a strong oral-systemic connection between overall dental health and the well-being of the rest of your body. Studies have shown that patients dealing with periodontal disease are at greater risk of developing conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Maintaining good oral health can impact the general wellness of your body, and at the Fawcett Center for Dentistry, we can help you find the ideal treatment to address your periodontal concerns.
Contact the Fawcett Center for Dentistry, P.A.
For more information about gum disease and periodontal treatments we encourage you to contact our practice to schedule an appointment with Dr. Fawcett. If you have lost teeth due to gum disease, you may want to discuss restoring your smile with dental implants.
Medical Resources for Periodontal Care
American Dental Association
National Library of Medicine