While the health and cleanliness of your teeth takes top priority at Oracle Family Dental, Dr. Maxwell Johnson feels the health of your gums is equally important. Gum disease affects more than just the health of your mouth. In fact, research into periodontal health continues to find links between gum disease and other, more serious health risks.
Heart disease, pregnancy complications, and diabetes, among others, can stem from gum disease, so the doctor finds it more important than ever to help our patients maintain healthy gums. If Dr. Johnson finds any evidence of periodontal disease during your regular checkup, he will provide treatment to repair any damage and prevent any more from occurring.
To learn more about our periodontal therapy options, call our Oro Valley, AZ, dental office today at (520) 219-7004 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson.
About Periodontal Disease
Gum disease occurs as a direct result of the bacteria that form in our mouth. The bacteria, along with other particles, form a sticky substance that forms on our teeth, called plaque. When not removed from the teeth, plaque hardens, forming tartar. While regular brushing and flossing will help get rid of the majority of plaque in your mouth, only a professional dental cleaning can remove tartar.
If we allow plaque and tartar to remain on the teeth, they can cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily. This is a mild form of gum disease called gingivitis. Typically, we can treat gingivitis with a professional cleaning and regular brushing and flossing.
When gingivitis goes untreated, it can develop into periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease. Periodontitis causes the gums to pull away from the teeth and form pockets, where the bacteria gather. Periodontitis can spread below the gum line, breaking down the tissue and bone that hold your teeth in place. This can cause your teeth to become loose, and eventually fall out.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease has several distinct symptoms, the most obvious of which include red, swollen, bleeding gums. Loose or sensitive teeth can also signify the development of periodontal disease. The disease may cause your gums to recede and feel quite tender. Other symptoms include pain when chewing and chronic bad breath.
If you have any of these symptoms, and especially if you experience several of them at once, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Johnson. The doctor will begin by reviewing your medical and dental history. He will examine your gums and take measurements of any pockets between your teeth and gums. If the pockets exceed one to three millimeters, you have unhealthy gums. At this point the doctor may take x-rays to check for bone loss, then determine the course of treatment that will work best for you.
Treating Gum Disease
Dr. Johnson has several treatment options at his disposal for fighting gum disease. Depending on the severity of your disease, the doctor can look at surgical or non-surgical treatments.
For patients with gingivitis, the mild form of gum disease, the doctor will likely perform a professional cleaning and review the proper method of brushing and flossing with you. For those with more advanced gum disease, he has a few other non-surgical treatment options.
Scaling and root planning involves a deep cleaning of the teeth and gums. The doctor will use a hook shaped instrument, called a scaler, to gently remove all plaque and tartar from your teeth, both above and below the gum line.
He will then use the instrument to smooth out the rough spots on the roots of your teeth. Bacteria tend to gather in these spots, and smoothing them keeps that from happening, while also reducing inflammation. Patients who undergo this procedure generally do not require further treatment, but Dr. Johnson may have you return before your next checkup, to monitor the results.
For severe cases, the doctor may also recommend medication to fight your gum disease. These may include prescription antibiotics, microbial mouth rinses, and enzyme suppressants.
In cases where deep pockets and inflammation continue after scaling and root planning and medication, the doctor may have to perform a surgical procedure. The two most common procedures are gum flap surgery and bone and tissue grafts.
For the gum flap surgery, Dr. Johnson will make an incision in the gum tissue, and pull the flap back. This allows for deep cleaning and tartar removal from the roots of the teeth underneath. Then he will replace the gum flap and suture it back in place to heal.
Bone and tissue grafts involve the doctor removing bone or tissue from another area and surgically placing it near the natural bone or tissue to stimulate regrowth. Dr. Johnson typically reserves this surgery for patients who have lost a significant amount of bone or tissue due to periodontal disease.
Call Us Today
To learn more about the treatment and prevention of gum disease, schedule your appointment with Dr. Johnson today, by calling our Oro Valley, AZ, dental office at (520) 219-7004.