Many people assume gum disease is a problem for the elderly. However, the American Academy of Periodontology has found that a staggering 47.2% (almost half) of all adults suffer from gum disease. In addition to being a painful condition, periodontal disease (gum disease) can also make your smile less attractive contribute to more serious problems.
The bacteria that cause gum disease tend to accumulate under the gum line where it's difficult to reach with brushing and flossing. In time, this infection can eat away at the tissue connecting your teeth to your gums and create "pockets" in this small space. As gum tissue recedes, so does the bone, which holds your teeth in place. Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss in America.
Additionally, studies have connected periodontal disease bacteria with serious, systemic health problems including heart disease, diabetes, stroke, low birth weight in babies, and others. Clearly there is more at stake that sore, bleeding gums.
Thankfully, we have many options to treat gum disease, even in advanced stages. If you believe you have symptoms of periodontal disease, it's important that you come in as soon as possible. The earlier we can begin treating the infection, the easier treatment will be - often we can deal with it using non-surgical methods, and the better chance we have of avoiding more serious health problems it can cause. The following treatments are listed from the least severe to most severe cases of periodontal disease.
Scaling and Root Planing: This is considered conventional periodontal therapy to prevent mild cases from progressing. Dr. Rose uses an instrument to gently scrape away accumulations of plaque and tartar. This procedure can also create a smooth, clean surface for gums to reattach to the tooth where it has been separated.
Antibiotics: Sometimes, gum disease can be treated from the inside out. Antibiotics are used to fight the bacteria that cause gum disease—calming your gums and protecting your dental structures. If you have deep pockets of infection, Dr. Rose might even place antibiotic fibers to give the area a little extra dose of medicine.
LANAP: This laser procedure includes cleaning plaque and tartar from below the gumline as well as treating the infected gum tissue with a specialized soft tissue laser. The LANAP procedure is FDA approved and clinically proven to fight infection and help gums regenerate.
Gum Grafting: This procedure is sometimes necessary where significant gum loss has occured. Dr. Rose takes a small piece of tissue from your palate and grafts it under your gumline where gum recession is extreme. Gum grafting involves cutting and stitches, so the recovery time is a bit longer.
Pocket Reduction Surgery: During pocket reduction surgery, flap surgery, or osseous surgery, Dr. Rose will gently detatch and fold back your gums in the infected area. Then he will carefully remove tartar and plaque, and smooth rough bone where bacteria can hide. Next, he'll remove infected gum tissue and stitch you back up. The gums can then heal and prevent bacteria from returning without pockets.
Bone Grafting: If enough bone structure has been lost to put you at risk of losing teeth, you may be a candidate for bone grafting. If so, Dr. Rose will carefully take bone from another area to help rebuild the area that has been lost. This may be necessary to save existing teeth or to create a suitible foundation for dental implants.
Dental Implants: If teeth cannot be saved it's important to replace them to prevent further bone loss due to atrophy. Dental implants are fully functional prosthetics that integrate directly into the bone much like a natural tooth root. They can become anchors for single crowns, bridges, or a full set of dentures.
Dr. Karl "Tony" Rose
If you are worried you might have gum disease, contact us at Periodontal & Implant Associates soon for a complete exam of your gums. Washington DC Periodontist Dr. Rose will recommend the appropriate treatment to stop the infection and prevent any more destructive results. We are located in Chevy Chase, MD and are happy to serve the surrounding communities of Bethesda, Silver Spring, Kensington, Woodside, and the entire Washington, DC area.