Gum disease is a progressive condition that can result in severe oral health issues like bone atrophy and tooth loss when left untreated. In addition, studies have linked gum disease to more serious health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes. To protect your smile and your overall well-being, Dr. Ryan Tracy offers non-invasive treatment methods, designed to help manage symptoms without the need for surgery. At our Clinton, MS, dental practice, we can perform a deep cleaning to remove bacteria or use our advanced LANAP® protocol to eliminate compromised tissue and promote tissue regeneration.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that results from a buildup of plaque and tartar. This condition is progressive and is only reversible in its earliest stage, known as gingivitis. This phase is characterized by inflamed gums, which may appear puffy and swollen. You may also experience bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. During this stage, the gums can separate from the teeth, forming deep pockets. These periodontal pockets can trap bacteria and in turn exacerbate the condition. Periodontitis is irreversible and can result in more serious health-related problems, including tooth loss, bone degeneration, heart disease, and diabetes. However, advances in dentistry have led to more conservative, yet successful treatments designed to preserve your oral health.
Because gum disease is often painless, many patients do not realize they have it.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
There are several risk factors that can contribute to periodontal disease, including:
- Poor oral health
- Tobacco use
- Medications, such as oral contraceptives, antihistamines, and antidepressants
- Bruxism (clenching or grinding of the teeth)
- HIV or AIDS
- Poor nutrition
Unfortunately, even with a good oral hygiene regimen, some patients are genetically prone to developing this condition.
Signs and Symptoms
Because gum disease is often painless, many patients do not realize they have it until it has advanced. However, there are several signs that may indicate you have gum disease, including:
- Bleeding, swollen, or tender gums
- Gum recession
- Pus or drainage in the gum line
- Chronic bad breath or bad taste
- A change in the way your teeth fit together
- Shifting or loose teeth
If you believe you have gum disease, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tracy in a timely manner. The earlier you receive effective treatment, the greater your chances of preventing the condition from advancing.
Long-Term Effects of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease not only affects your smile. It can also impact your overall health and well-being. If bacteria enters your bloodstream, the infection can travel throughout your body. Research has linked gum disease with serious health issues including:
- Heart disease
- Pneumonia aspiration
- Oral cancer
Bacteria can also impact your immune system, making it harder to fight off infection.
In more advanced stages, patients may require surgery to repair dental damage. However, if we detect your condition early, we can often successfully treat gum disease with non-invasive procedures.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is one of the most common non-surgical treatments for periodontal disease. During this deep cleaning, we can remove plaque and tartar from beneath the gum line. We can then smooth the tooth roots, eliminating rough areas that can harbor bacteria. Scaling and root planing effectively reduces the pocket depths around the teeth, without the need for incisions or sutures. To ensure your comfort throughout your procedure, we can also administer a local anesthetic. We generally recommend deep cleaning for patients struggling with the early stages of gum disease.
Also referred to as Laser Assisted Regeneration, LANAP is a modern innovation designed to treat gum disease with an advanced dental laser. This tool uses special pulses to distinguish healthy tissue from inflamed tissue. It can then target the compromised area without impacting surrounding healthy gums. The LANAP method also reduces pocket depths around the teeth and promotes soft tissue regeneration. Dental lasers minimize bleeding and swelling, reducing the overall recovery time for patients and providing a more comfortable experience. Because this non-invasive treatment is just as effective as traditional gum surgery, patients with a high level of dental anxiety benefit significantly from LANAP.
Importance of Preventive Care
While we offer several treatment options for patients with gum disease, preventive dentistry is the best way to protect you from this condition. It is not only important to maintain routine oral hygiene, but also integral to visit your dentist for routine cleanings and exams. During these visits, your hygienist can remove plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach areas and polish your smile. We may also recommend sealants or fluoride depending on your age and genetic predisposition to decay.
While we recommend patients schedule checkups every six months, patients who are prone to gum disease should visit more frequently. Dr. Tracy will work with you to determine a periodontal maintenance schedule that meets your needs.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you are experiencing symptoms of gum disease, schedule a visit with Dr. Tracy to find out if non-invasive treatments could be a solution for you. You may contact us online anytime, or call our office at (601) 924-0770.