A common dental problem that you may encounter is gum disease. In fact, nearly half of all adults show some signs of gum disease. This condition affects the soft tissues that support your teeth. When plaque builds on the gum line, it can cause inflammation and irritation to the gums. Over time, this inflammation can lead to the recession of the gums, causing potential tooth loss if left untreated.
The Role of Plaque and Tartar
To understand gum disease, it’s vital to recognize the role of plaque and tartar. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums after consuming food or beverages. If not removed through regular brushing and flossing, plaque hardens into tartar. Unfortunately, it is more challenging to eliminate. The bacteria within plaque and tartar produce toxins that irritate the gums, resulting in inflammation and swelling. This initial stage of gum disease is also known as gingivitis.
Progression to Periodontitis
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. At this stage, bacteria have reached the roots of the teeth and the bone supporting them, causing the gums to recede. Receding gums expose the tooth roots, which can also be sensitive and painful. Additionally, without enamel protection, the roots become more susceptible to further decay.
Treatment Options for Receding Gums
Seeking professional dental care is crucial for treating receding gums caused by gum disease. A dentist can assess the severity of the condition and also recommend suitable treatment options.
Scaling and Root Planing: This non-surgical procedure involves a deep cleaning of the teeth and gums to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Using specialized tools, the dentist will scrape away bacteria and toxins, smoothing the root surfaces to discourage bacterial adhesion. This helps reduce inflammation and promotes gum reattachment to the teeth.
Gum Graft Surgery: In severe cases where the gums have receded significantly, exposing the roots, gum graft surgery may be necessary. This procedure involves taking tissue from another part of the mouth or a donor source and grafting it onto the affected area. This also helps protect the roots and prevent further damage. Overall, it enhances the smile’s appearance.
Pocket Reduction Surgery: Pocket reduction surgery may be required when deep pockets form between the teeth and gums due to advanced gum disease. The procedure involves lifting the gums away from the teeth, removing bacteria and toxins from the pockets, reshaping the gums, and reattaching them to the teeth. This reduces the pocket depth and prevents further damage.
Antibiotics: In certain situations, the dentist may prescribe antibiotics to combat the bacteria-causing gum disease. Antibiotics can be administered orally, applied topically, or inserted into the gum pockets to eliminate bacteria and reduce inflammation.
Taking Action for Healthy Gums
If you’re experiencing gum disease or receding gums, it’s essential to consult a dentist promptly. With appropriate treatment, you can stop gum disease progression and restore your gums’ health.