What is Gum Disease?
Gum (periodontal) disease is caused by plaque – a thin film of bacteria that builds up on your teeth. If not regularly removed, plaque will harden into tartar and begin to erode your gums, creating pockets of infection between your teeth and gumline.
Though it may be painless at first and grow slowly, gum disease can have serious consequences. Not only could you lose your teeth, but because gum health interconnects with many other aspects of oral and physical health, this infection can put you at risk for heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. This is why it is essential that we do not allow it to progress to the more serious stages.
Types of Gum Disease
The two types of gum disease include:
Gingivitis is early-stage gum disease. At this point, gums may become sensitive, red, and swollen, and you may spot blood in your toothbrush or when you floss.
Periodontitis is the more serious form of gum disease. At this stage, your gums recede and bacteria eventually fills pockets between gums and teeth. Light to moderate bone loss in the jaw can also happen.
Teeth lose support as your gums, bone, and periodontal ligament break down. Moderate to severe bone loss in your jaw may occur, and your teeth can become loose or fall out.
How to Maintain & Improve Gum Health
Though gum disease has serious outcomes, most cases are preventable with good oral hygiene and regular checkups. Here’s what you can do at home and how your dentist can help:
- Brush at least twice daily
- Floss once per day
- Rinse thoroughly with an alcohol-free anti-gingivitis mouthwash
- See your dentist regularly and let them know about any changes, gum sensitivity, or soreness
What Your Dentist Can Do for Your Gums
When you visit your dentist for a routine hygiene cleaning and exam your dental hygienist will provide you with a thorough professional cleaning and then your dentist will exam your mouth. They will look for any signs of gingivitis, gum soreness, or changes in your oral health. They will also let you know if you're doing a good job with your at-home dental care.
Treatments for Gum Disease
If you've been diagnosed with gum disease, there are several restorative treatment options your dentist may recommend, depending on what stage your condition is in:
To treat early-stage gum disease, we recommend frequent hygiene appointments, deep cleanings, and specialized home care routines.
In more severe cases, you may need a gum graft. This surgical procedure thickens gums, protects against the damaging effects of gum recession, and can help improve the appearance of your smile.
Pinhole Gum Rejuvenation Surgery
The Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique is a scalpel-free, suture-free option for treating gum recession. A dentist uses a needle to make a small hole in the patient’s existing gum tissue, through which they use special instruments to gently loosen the gum tissue. The gumline is gently adjusted to cover the exposed root structure.
Teeth & Gum Contouring
These cosmetic procedures can help improve your smile’s overall aesthetics. Teeth contouring involves using a dental drill to shave away excess tooth material and reshaping chipped, uneven or poorly aligned teeth, while excess gum tissue is removed to contour or lift gums.