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Gum Disease, Gingivitis and Periodontitis

One of the biggest trends we see as dentists is the progression of minimal gum disease into more serious dental problems. It is our job to identify, treat, and most often educate our patients on the preventative measures they can implement to have healthy smiles. 

Good oral hygiene is the key to prevention and even reversal of gingivitis. This involves brushing twice a day, flossing, and coming in for regular 6 month cleanings. Make sure to schedule your next appointment before leaving our office to stay on track!

Clear Aligner therapy, also known as Invisalign, is used to align teeth. It is one of the best options for a long term investment in your oral care because straight teeth are clean teeth. Family Smile Dental has state of the art scanning technology that can map the movement of your teeth and show you the final result of your Invisalign treatment. Dr. Michael Gelfand is available for consultations to walk you through the process.

Because knowledge is power, let’s first take a look at the basics of gum disease and where you might fall on its spectrum.

Gum disease is the general term that is used to describe all stages of the disease including gingivitis and periodontitis. 

The 5 signs of gingivitis are:

1. Bad breath

2. Sensitivity of teeth 

3. Recession of gums 

4. Redness and irritation of gums

5. Bleeding when you brush 

Gingivitis is very common and is the result of plaque accumulation on teeth. If left untreated gingivitis can lead to a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. 

Other factors that can predispose you to gum disease are:

1. Misalignment of teeth (crooked teeth), since they are more difficult to clean

2. Family history

3. Smoking

4. Hormonal changes (pregnancy)

5. Medications 

There are 4 stages of gum disease:

Stage 1: Gingivitis when gums are red and bleed when brushed

Stage 2: Early periodontitis is when gingivitis is left untreated it will lead to slight loss of the bone that supports the teeth

Stage 3: Moderate periodontitis, more bone and gum tissue is lost and teeth become loose 

Stage 4: Advanced periodontitis is the severe stage of the disease, at which point teeth become very loose and there is pain on chewing

Periodontal disease is also associated with other health conditions. It has been linked to cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, pneumonia and strokes.  

If gingivitis progresses to periodontitis, there are several treatment options. One option is scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) in which scaling removes plaque and tartar from below the gum line while root planing smothers the tooth root, preventing build up and allowing the gums to reattach to the tooth.

Another treatment that is available is Arestin, a locally applied antibiotic that remains active in the periodontal pocket.

Laser therapy is a treatment that involves the removal of inflamed gum tissues. The benefits of this treatment are:

1. It is precise and accurate

2. Involves less bleeding and is less invasive than traditional perio surgery

3. Shorter recovery and healing time

Now that you have the general information pertaining to gum disease, make sure that you are on track with your 6 month cleanings. You have more power than you think over the health of your smile.

Regular cleanings, deep cleanings, Arestin, laser therapy, and Invisalign are all options in the fight against gum disease. The dentists at Family Smile Dental are happy to answer your questions and help you take the steps necessary to improve your oral health.