Gum Disease

The following are risks factors that affect the health of our gums:

  • Smoking. Need another reason to quit smoking? Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors associated with the development of gum disease. Additionally, smoking can lower the chances for successful treatment.
  • Hormonal changes in girls/women. These changes can make gums more sensitive and make it easier for gingivitis to develop.
  • Diabetes. People with diabetes are at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease.
  • Other illnesses. Diseases like cancer or AIDS and their treatments can also negatively affect the health of gums.
  • Medications. There are hundreds of prescriptions and over the counter medications that can reduce the flow of saliva, which has a protective effect on the mouth. Without enough saliva, the mouth is vulnerable to infections such as gum disease. And some medicines can cause abnormal overgrowth of the gum tissue; this can make it difficult to keep teeth and gums clean.
  • Genetic susceptibility. Some people are more prone to severe gum disease than others.

Who gets gum disease?

People usually don’t show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to have gum disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.

Are there signs and symptoms that tell me I have gum disease?

Signs and symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Receding gums or longer appearing teeth

What will my dentist do to confirm I have gum disease?

At your dental visit the dentist or hygienist should:

  • Ask about your medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors (such as smoking) that may contribute to gum disease.
  • Examine your gums and note any signs of inflammation.
  • Use a tiny ruler called a “probe” to check for and measure any pockets. In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters, so you want to avoid having any 4 or greater pocket depths. This test for pocket depth is usually painless
  • Take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss.
  • Refer you to a gum specialist known as a periodontist if the gum disease is severe enough and will require specialty procedure. Periodontists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and may provide you with treatment options that are not offered by your general dentist.

How is gum disease treated?

It is treated by controlling the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Improved oral hygiene is the most important method to treat gum disease along with regular professional cleanings. If the gum disease is causing support loss for teeth then Scaling and Root Planing will be recommended.

What is a “Deep Cleaning”?

A “deep cleaning” is the common name for Scaling and Root Planing. During your cleaning visit our dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist will remove the plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease.

How can I keep my teeth and gums healthy?

  • Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste).
  • Floss regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. Or use a device such as a special brush or wooden or plastic pick recommended by a dental professional.
  • Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning.
  • Don’t smoke

Can gum disease cause health problems beyond the mouth?

In some studies, researchers have observed that people with gum disease (when compared to people without gum disease) were more likely to develop heart disease or have difficulty controlling blood sugar. Other studies showed that women with gum disease were more likely than those with healthy gums to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies. But so far, it has not been determined whether gum disease is the cause of these conditions.

There may be other reasons people with gum disease sometimes develop additional health problems.

For example, something else may be causing both the gum disease and the other condition, or it could be a coincidence that gum disease and other health problems are present together. More research is needed to clarify whether gum disease actually causes health problems beyond the mouth, and whether treating gum disease can keep other health conditions from developing. In the meantime, it’s a fact that controlling gum disease can save your teeth – a very good reason to take care of your teeth and gums.

My first visit was for an exam and cleaning, my hygienist Alisa was amazing, I’m very anxious about my dental visits and she was so gentle and very understanding. I already have my next cleaning scheduled. She was amazing and I have already recommended her to 5 friends.

My 2nd visit was to get a filling and crown. Alyine was so reassuring and checking if I was ok. She let me know step by step what was going on. Super gentle as well and made sure I was comfortable.

I will definitely be making future appointments and recommending family and friends for their dental care needs.

Erica Medina Albrecht