When most patients think of dental health problems, they imagine a toothache or cavity. While tooth decay is a common problem, the teeth are not the only part of your mouth that can be susceptible to damage. Gum disease is said to impact up to 80% of adults at some point in their life. Gum disease can cause minor pain and be easy to treat if caught early. However, if it grows, it can cause significant damage, including tooth loss. Dr. Beata A. Carlson & Associates of Natural and Cosmetic Dentistry in Clearwater, FL, help their patients understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments for gum disease.
At Natural and Cosmetic Dentistry, we believe oral health is important; this is why we recommend you brush and floss your teeth in the morning, at night, and brush after every meal.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease occurs when bacteria in the plaque on the teeth becomes trapped along the gumline. If not removed, the bacteria can begin to create pockets where the gums pull away from the teeth by brushing and flossing. Gum disease can also be caused by certain medications that decrease saliva production, hormone changes that cause gum sensitivity, or illnesses that impact your immune system.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
The earliest stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. At this stage, gum disease can cause very little pain or discomfort. Some patients will notice that their gums feel swollen or sore, or the gums may appear to be red in spots. Additionally, an early sign of gum disease is bleeding when you brush. Many patients think that a little ‘pink in the sink’ is just part of brushing their teeth, but in fact, it can be a sign to schedule a dental appointment.
If the gum disease progresses to periodontitis, it can cause additional symptoms such as bad breath that won’t go away, teeth that appear to be longer as the gum line recedes, or teeth that feel loose.
How is gum disease treated?
The first thing dentists advise their patients is that gum disease can usually be avoided with proper oral health habits. Patients are encouraged to brush twice a day, using a soft-bristled toothbrush and gentle circular motion. Dentists advise not to brush too aggressively as it can harm the gums.
If you develop gingivitis, it can also be treated effectively with a professional cleaning or an antibiotic mouthwash that will kill the bacteria in your mouth. Periodontitis requires further treatment that can include a deeper cleaning of the gums. Dr. Beata A. Carlson & Associates use LANAP treatment which provides patients with more significant benefits over traditional gum surgery.
LANAP protocol is a minimally invasive gum treatment that uses lasers instead of scalpels to target damage in the gums and help regenerate soft tissue and bone. LANAP offers less postoperative pain and faster recovery time to patients who receive the treatment. It works by inserting tiny laser fiber between the gums and the tooth. The laser cleans the tooth roots and is then used again to seal the pocket. The treatment is performed under local anesthesia, and patients can drive and resume their daily activities when they are finished.
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