What You Need to Know about Gum Disease

stages of periodontal disease

Gum disease affects millions of people in the United States. In fact, according to data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of all Americans have mild, moderate, or advanced periodontal disease. At Walnut Pond Dental in Annandale, NJ, Drs. Carson Ferris-Zeolla and Victoria Uryniak offer treatments for gum disease that will reduce the levels of oral bacteria and help maintain healthy smiles.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Oral bacteria aids in the formation of plaque and tartar. The longer plaque stays on the teeth, the more problematic it becomes. The plaque that collects along the gum line and around the teeth cause the gums to become red and inflamed. As time goes on, the infection begins to erode the bone around the teeth, creating deep pockets that cannot be reached with brushing and flossing alone.

Although the direct cause of gum disease is bacteria, there can be several reasons why patients are susceptible to it. Common risk factors include:

  • Genetics: Unfortunately, patients with a significant family history of periodontal disease are more likely to develop it.
  • Diabetes: Patients with diabetes are at a much higher risk for developing gingivitis and gum disease.
  • Medications: Dry mouth is a condition that can be caused by certain medications. Without sufficient saliva, bacteria levels rise, making patients more vulnerable to periodontal disease.
  • Hormonal Changes: Many women experience gingivitis or gum inflammation during life stages such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
  • Smoking: Not only does smoking increase the likelihood you will develop periodontal disease, it also reduces the chances for successful treatment.
  • Certain Illnesses: Patients with auto-immune conditions are more prone to gum disease.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Because gum disease is generally not painful, many patients do not seek necessary treatment in a timely manner. The sooner gum disease is diagnosed, the less invasive your treatment will be, giving you the best chance for long-term success. There are several warning signs that can indicate periodontal issues. You may have gum disease if you notice:

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Sensitive teeth or tender gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Gum recession
  • Bad breath or bad taste

If you develop any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule a dental consultation right away. By treating gum disease early, you can avoid more serious complications in the future.

Gum Disease and Whole-Body Health

There is a known connection between periodontal disease and overall health. The bacteria that are present in the mouth are also present in the bloodstream. Therefore, if you have infection around the teeth, that toxicity is also being carried to all of your organs. Gum disease places patients at a higher risk for developing serious health issues such as heart disease and stroke.

Diagnosing Gum Disease

To determine whether or not you have periodontal disease, our doctors can see you for a consultation. X-rays and scans will be taken to evaluate the bone levels around the teeth. With the use of a special instrument called a periodontal probe, the pocket depths around each tooth will also be measured. Deeper pockets signify more bone loss. Healthy teeth typically measure between one and three millimeters. Four millimeter pockets indicate gingivitis, while pockets that are five millimeters and above denote periodontal disease.

Non-Surgical Treatments for Gum Disease

Mild to moderate periodontal disease can be addressed with a non-surgical treatment known as scaling and root planing. During this procedure, the gums are numbed with local anesthesia for your comfort. Using a combination of hand scalers and ultrasonic instruments, the plaque and tartar are removed from the teeth. Cleaning deep into the gum line where your toothbrush and floss cannot reach, the roots of the teeth are smoothed to discourage further plaque from reattaching.

At Walnut Pond, we also use a periodontal laser for the treatment of gum disease. This innovative technology targets infected tissue while leaving healthy tissue intact during a minimally-invasive procedure.

If you have severe periodontal disease, you will require more extensive treatment. If our doctors determine your case is too advanced for scaling and root planing or laser therapy, you will be referred out to a trusted periodontist for specialized care.

Periodontal Maintenance

Once you undergo your initial treatment, it is important to maintain your new healthy smile with routine dental cleanings. Many patients who are prone to periodontal disease will require more frequent cleanings to keep the bacteria levels at bay. Dr. Uryniak and Dr. Ferris-Zeolla will work with you to determine a cleaning schedule that will maximize your results.

Schedule a Consultation Today

If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of gum disease, schedule a consultation at Walnut Pond Dental. We can help you determine a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. Contact us online, or call our office at (908) 200-7007.