Oshkosh Smiles – Gum Disease

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is a serious infection of your gums. It can damage the tissue and bone that support the teeth. If left untreated It can cause severe dental problems and tooth loss.

Most people don’t even realize that they have periodontal disease until it is too late. That’s why it is important for you to visit your dentist and dental hygienist regularly for cleanings and check-ups. At these appointments, we can check for signs and symptoms of gum disease and diagnose it early. Some common symptoms people face are bad breath, red/inflamed gums, bleeding, and tender gums, and sensitive teeth.

The earlier we can treat the gum infection, the better chance the patient has to keep their mouth clean and healthy.

What types of periodontal disease are there?

There are two major types of periodontal disease called gingivitis and periodontitis. The most common form that people have probably heard of is Gingivitis. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. In fact, over half of adults the united states have this form of gum disease and don’t even realize it.  With gingivitis, there is typically not a significant amount of bone loss, and fortunately, it can be reversed. However, if left untreated gingivitis can quickly turn into periodontitis which Is a more severe form of gum disease.

Periodontitis is an irreversible form of gum disease. The damage to the tissue and bone has already happened, and the bone loss around the teeth cannot grow back.  Once the gum disease turns into periodontitis, the teeth can often become loose and sensitive. Periodontitis can progress very quickly after it reaches this stage, which is why it needs to be treated differently than a regular, healthy mouth. 

How do I treat periodontal disease?

Gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) can be treated with a slightly more aggressive dental cleaning than a person with a healthy mouth would receive. We may recommend that a patient with gingivitis come in for one extra dental cleaning a year until we can reverse the disease process. Gingivitis is mainly treated at home and the success rate is mainly based on the patient’s home care.  The most important things a person should be doing at home include: brushing two times per day and flossing daily. We typically recommend an antibacterial mouth rinse for a person with gum disease, to help limit the amount of bacteria present in the mouth. With daily flossing, and brushing two times a day for two minutes, most cases of gingivitis can be reversed in a couple of weeks.

Periodontitis (The more aggressive form of gum disease) is irreversible, but it can be maintained. Treatment for periodontitis includes a deep cleaning called scaling and root planing. Once the scaling and root planning is completed, we recommend that the patient stay on a three-month periodontal maintenance cleaning program. A periodontal maintenance cleaning is a more aggressive cleaning that goes below the gumline. Patients with a history of periodontal disease need deeper cleanings because periodontal “pockets” have formed and bone loss has already occurred. A pocket is the space between the tooth and gum tissue where plaque and calculus form. While more intensive, this cleaning process is essential to restore and maintain gum and bone health. If the bacteria is left untreated, it can lead to inflammation, infection, tooth loss and can cause other serious health issues.

Our main focus here at Oshkosh Smiles is to help patients keep their mouths healthy and happy. Education is the first step in making our goal happen. If you have any concerns about your gum health or think you may have gum disease, please contact our office at 920-233-6001 to schedule a consultation.