Gum disease, which starts as reversible gingivitis, develops into irreversible periodontitis. It’s an infection in the soft tissue that supports your teeth and causes bone loss and soft tissue damage. The first stage, gingivitis, presents as swollen, red gums that may be more prone to bleeding.
Because symptoms are mild, they may go unnoticed and gingivitis can develop into periodontitis. This is when you start suffering from bone loss and soft tissue damage that causes loose teeth and gum recession.
As your gums pull away from your teeth, gum pockets form that trap food particles and bacteria. Gum disease is diagnosed by measuring the depths of the patient’s gum pockets with a periodontal probe. Depths greater than 3 mm indicate gingivitis and depths greater than 4 mm are indicative of periodontitis.
Periodontal care is the treatment for gum disease, which ranges from minimally invasive to surgical. A good oral hygiene routine and a professional dental cleaning can be enough to reverse gingivitis. However, once you develop periodontitis, you will need a more intense cleaning involving scaling and root planing, known as deep cleaning.
This removes plaque and tartar buildup and smooths out the root of the tooth to make it easier for the gums to reattach. In more advanced stages of periodontitis, you may need oral surgery such as gum or bone grafts to regenerate lost gum and bone tissue.
Other surgical procedures include gum flap surgery and guided tissue regeneration. Gum flap surgery involves thoroughly cleaning your gum pockets by cutting and lifting the gum tissue to remove plaque and tartar. Guided tissue regeneration is a treatment that involves placing a material between the bone and soft tissue to regenerate bone.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it will develop into periodontitis and cause irreversible bone and soft tissue damage. As the infection progresses, your gums will recede and pull away from your teeth, leading to gum pockets that trap even more bacteria.
The bone deterioration will cause your teeth to become loose and fall out. This results in changes in your bite and facial structure, making it more difficult to chew and speak clearly. Leaving gum disease untreated will also ensure that you need more invasive, costly, and long procedures in the future rather than a simple cleaning now.
This ultimately depends on who your insurer is and what plan you have. We recommend that you call your provider and ask them directly if they cover periodontal care and what treatments they apply to. At Smile Society General Dentistry, we accept a variety of insurance plans and also offer an in-house membership plan that can save you on dental costs. If you believe you have gum disease, contact us at Smile Society General Dentistry today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Munira Sulaiman or Dr. Mandeep Singh.
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