Updated: Oct 31, 2019
As a professional Corpus Christi Dentist office, Gonzalez Family Dentistry can diagnose and treat gum disease methodically. If you believe you are having and gum issues please reach out to us and set up an appointment to get treated right away. The sooner you get it diagnosed and treated, the better chances you have of avoiding long term damage to your gums and teeth.
Gonzalez Family Dentistry is also a Corpus Christi Dentist who can treat dental patients for a variety of other preventative and corrective dental issues such as routine exams and cleaning, impacted teeth, braces and invisalign advice and steps to take, fillings, veeners, extractions and dentures. Please fill out our form on the bottom of the page here.
About Gum Disease
Gum disease, medically known as periodontal disease, is a dental condition that affects the periodontal tissues (gums and bone support) surrounding the teeth. It is basically an inflammatory process that can start as a simple gum affection, but can become so severe that it could end up affecting the teeth support, producing its loosening and consequent fall (1, 2, 3).
According to worldwide statistics, advanced gum disease is the more common cause of dental loss or extraction in individuals over 35 years old, generating approximately 80% of the total exodontia in these patients.
Which ones are the main causes of gum disease?
Most cases are caused by the continuous build-up of plaque on the teeth due to deficient oral hygiene. The plaque is a sticky, soft, and invisible film produced by the presence of bacteria, mucus, and food remains, which, with time, it begins to accumulate in the surface of the teeth and under the gums.
If this plaque is not eliminated regularly by brushing and flossing, it becomes tartar, another type of film capable of accumulating many bacteria. Due to its difficulty to be removed through classic methods, it is necessary to consult a professional to do so. If the tartar is not removed, local toxins build-up, producing irritation and inflammation of the gums. This stage of periodontal disease is known as gingivitis, a reversible condition that can only be treated by a dental professional.
If gingivitis is not treated on time, the pockets full of toxic remains will continue to be formed, affecting even more all the teeth surrounding. These spaces will become deeper, accumulating even more bacteria and debilitating the bone root until the tooth loosens. This stage is known as periodontitis, a dental condition that has a more complex treatment, requiring, in some cases, surgical interventions (1, 3).
· Systemic diseases, such as AIDS, leukemia, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn disease.
· Oncology treatments.
· Use of medications like bismuth, phenytoin, calcium channel blockers, and birth control pills.
· Dry mouth.
· Smoking or chewing tobacco.
· Substance abuse.
· Hormonal changes due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or aging.
· Incorrect nutrition with a lack of vitamin C.
· Bad dental alignment.
· Use of improperly placed or contaminated equipment.
· Mental stress.
What is the symptomatology of gum disease?
Normally, healthy gums present a pinkish color and a firm aspect, being securely attached to the teeth. However, in the first stages of the disease, gums are inflamed, taking a dark reddish or bright violet coloration. Besides, they retract, become sensitive at the touch and during mastication, and produce bad breath.
In more advanced stages, gums become severely painful at the touch and during mastication, they retract so much that a large part of the teeth can be seen, bleed very easily, produce pus, and become very sensitive to the cold. In addition, the teeth become very loose and more separated between them (1, 2).
How is gum disease diagnosed?
The dental professional will perform a series of questions to understand the quality of the patient´s dental hygiene, his or her medical and dental antecedents, the possible causes of the disease, and the present symptomatology. Then, the specialist will examine the totality of the oral cavity in order to find traces of plaque, tartar, and related signs.
After this, the professional will measure the separation and depth that exist between the gums and the affected teeth. This process is performed by inserting an exploratory instrument between the mentioned structures. In healthy patients, the depth does not have to pass the 3 mm. If the patient has 4 mm or more, it could be indicative of periodontal disease. The spaces that pass the 6 mm, common in advanced stages of the disease, cannot be properly cleaned.
In these severe cases, the dental specialist could recommend performing a series of dental x-rays to know more about the patient´s bone status. If the cause remains unclear, other exams and laboratories could be indicated to diagnose the existence of underlying pathology (1).
What are the treatment options for gum disease?
The main goal of the treatment is to eliminate the existing pockets between the gums and teeth, and eliminate all the traces of plaque and tartar, preventing further damage to the bone support. In the early stages of the disease, the use of the technique known as “scaling and root planning” accomplishes this task.
The prescription of topical or oral antibiotics will be only necessary when there is a bacterial infection present. Besides, the implementation of correct hygiene measures will help obtain a final positive result.
In more advanced stages of the disease, the professional will have to recur to surgical treatments to reconstruct a part of the affected structures. In these cases, the most used techniques include flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery, the implementation of bone and/or soft tissue grafts, the extraction of one or more dental pieces to avoid the propagation of the disease, among others (1, 4).
You can set up an initial appointment or find out more information if you are having issues or if you and your family would like to have a new family dentist. Our contact information can be found here. We cannot wait to hear from you. Have a great day.