At the Center for Cosmetic Dentistry, we have decades of experience treating general dental needs, as well as the most complicated cosmetic and reconstructive concerns. Good periodontal health is a foundational component of a healthy smile and our experienced dentist, Robert Rioseco, DMD, offers the full scope of periodontal services to prevent, detect, and effectively treat all stages of gum disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a degenerative disorder of the gums and boney tissue surrounding teeth. This disease is caused by genetic propensities as well as by accumulation of bacterial plaque on the teeth, which creates an inflammatory response. It is the inflammatory response that causes the breakdown of gingival and bone tissues, leading to gum recession, bone recession, and, ultimately, tooth loss.
What Are Common Causes of Periodontal Disease?
The best prevention against periodontal disease is proper dental hygiene (twice daily brushing and flossing) along with regularly scheduled professional dental cleanings and dental exams. When plaque, tartar, and harmful bacteria build up along the gumline and within the gum pockets, an infection can develop. When the infection affects the outermost layer of the gums, called the gingival tissue, it is diagnosed as gingivitis—the earliest stage of periodontal disease. The deeper the infection goes, the more serious the condition becomes. If treatment is not performed to address the infection by removing accumulated tartar and plaque, killing bacteria, and allowing the tissue to heal, periodontal disease will continue to advance until the infection destroys the gums, connective tissue, jawbone, and teeth.
Additional factors that may increase chances of developing periodontal disease can include hormone fluctuations, smoking/tobacco use, and genetic predisposition, as well as certain illnesses and medications. For patients with these risk factors, Dr. Rioseco may recommend more frequent dental cleanings and checkups to closely monitor gum health and aid in early detection of disease or disease advancement.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?
The most common symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Bleeding gums (typically after brushing and/or flossing)
- Deep pockets between the tooth root and gums
- Red, swollen, sensitive, and/or tender gums
- Gumline recession
- Persistent bad breath
- Persistent bad taste in the mouth
When periodontal disease has advanced, the symptoms typically become more severe and may also include:
- Pain around the teeth
- Shifting teeth
- Loosening of teeth
- Painful chewing
- Tooth loss
Severe gum disease can also have a negative affect on your overall health and has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, respiratory disease, and certain types of cancer.
Are There Different Stages of Gum Disease?
Gum disease has three stages:
- Gingivitis – The earliest stage of gingivitis is diagnosed when there is plaque buildup at the gumline, gingival tissue is irritated, and the gums bleed as a result of brushing and flossing. The bone and soft tissue are not yet damaged at this phase.
- Periodontitis – Gum pockets form around the teeth roots, which can collect plaque and bacteria that advance the infection when untreated. At this stage, the gums and bone tissue have receded, and while they cannot be restored, progression of the disease can be arrested with a proper treatment plan and homecare.
- Advanced Periodontitis – The advanced stage of the disease is the final phase, in which the bone and connective tissue supporting the teeth have become destroyed. Teeth may be loose, shifting, falling out, or in need of removal.
What Gum Disease Treatments Are Available?
Treatment of this disease must be done by a team approach. The members of that team begin with the patient, hygienist, and Dr. Rioseco. In more advanced stages of the disease, patients may be asked to have a specialist or periodontist brought onto the team. Our periodontal treatments include the following:
- Comprehensive periodontal exam – This exam pays particularly close attention to the gums and surrounding structures of the teeth. We are looking for periodontal pockets around the teeth that can harbor bacterial plaque, tartar, and inflammatory components.
- Scaling and root planing – This can be done with local anesthesia in order to remove plaque and tartar that is deposited deep in the pockets and on the root surfaces of the teeth.
- Placement of local chemotherapeutic agents and antimicrobial chips – This can be done to combat bacterial levels in pockets. We prefer the use of Arestin® in deep pockets to continue the fight against bacteria long after the scaling is completed.
- Minor gingival surgeries – Can be performed for pocket reduction as well as for aesthetic enhancement of the gingival architecture.
- Periodontal maintenance visits – Can involve more frequent cleaning of the teeth by the doctor and hygienists for patients with greater tendencies toward disease and patients who have had a history of periodontal disease. These visits usually occur on a three month basis. For teens with braces, periodontal maintenance visits should occur more frequently than on children without braces and those with better hygiene habits.
Contact The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry
If you would like more information on our periodontal services, or if you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our cosmetic dentists, please contact The Center for Cosmetic Dentistry today.