If you struggle with periodontitis, or gum disease, you’re not alone. An estimated 70% of people over age 65 have some form of gum disease. How can you treat it? Sometimes, such as in the case of gingivitis, all you might need is a professional cleaning. If your gum disease worsens, your periodontal dentist will develop a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Periodontitis, or gum disease, results from infection or inflammation of the teeth and surrounding gums. Gum disease is often caused by a bacterial build-up on the teeth that hardens. You can help keep periodontitis under control by practicing smart oral hygiene habits, like brushing twice a day, flossing, and regularly visiting your dentist.
In the early stages of gum disease, also called gingivitis, your gums may become a bit swollen or even bleed. In the more advanced stages, periodontitis signs and symptoms may include:
Redness or swelling around the gums
Pain while chewing
Loose teeth or gaping gums
Spaces between teeth
Changes in bite or fit of dentures
Exploring your periodontitis treatment options
The severity of your gum disease influences your course of treatment. Discover the options available to you based on your current oral health.
Professional cleaning to treat early-stage periodontitis
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. It’s relatively easy to treat and can usually be controlled with a professional cleaning from your Aspen Dental care team. They can also give you some great advice and tips on how you can keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Scaling and root planing
If your gum disease is beyond gingivitis, the first step in gum disease treatment usually involves scaling and root planing. This treatment may be done over more than one visit, depending on your personal needs.
Your dentist or hygienist removes plaque and tartar down to the bottom of each periodontal pocket.
Then, the root surfaces of your teeth are smoothed, or “planed,” to allow the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the teeth.
Your dentist or hygienist may recommend medicines to help control infection and discomfort, or to aid in healing. You may be given pills, a mouth rinse, or they may place medication directly into the periodontal pocket after the treatment.
Periodontal surgery for severe gum disease
Sometimes, scaling and root planing isn't enough treatment on its own. If pockets do not heal enough after scaling and root planing, gum surgery may be needed.
Surgery allows your dentist to remove plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach areas. Afterwards, your gums will be stitched into place to tightly hug your teeth.
Surgery can also help to shrink pocket depth and make it easier for you to keep your teeth clean.
How to keep your teeth and gums healthy after periodontal disease treatment
Plan for more visits to the dentist
You will need to see your dentist more often than other patients. The pockets and other issues from your gum disease will make it harder for you to clean plaque from your teeth.
Your dentist will talk to you about a treatment plan that works best for you, and they will recommend a maintenance care schedule based on your personal case. Over time, fewer appointments may be necessary. Once your gums are healthy, your dentist will determine a maintenance schedule based on your clinical evaluations.
Set up periodic periodontal cleanings to stay on top of your gum disease
Once your gum disease is under control, it is very important for you to see your Aspen Dental periodontist consistently for periodontal maintenance care. These cleanings are more extensive than the standard cleaning and will help you keep your gums healthy. With periodontal maintenance, the amount of plaque bacteria is lowered, which calms inflammation and allows your pockets to shrink and your gums to become healthier.
Take gum disease medication as prescribed
Your teeth and gums may be sensitive after your treatment. This soreness may make you want to avoid cleaning the treated areas. But it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions on home care. If plaque is not removed, root decay may form. Your care team may recommend a special toothpaste or other treatments to decrease your tooth sensitivity.
You may also need medication to help control the infection and pain. This medication could be a pill, a special mouth rinse, or a treatment that your dentist places directly into the pocket right after scaling and root planing.
Oral care at home to prevent periodontal relapse
There are some simple things you can do at home to help your gums heal and prevent future problems:
Brush 2 times every day for 2 minutes each time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste with fluoride. Fluoride is a natural mineral that helps keep teeth strong.
Clean your teeth daily to remove plaque and bits of food from between your teeth. If your gums have pulled away from your teeth, it may be best to use smaller brushes, picks, or wider types of floss to clean between your teeth.
Your dentist may also recommend regularly using a specific mouth rinse.
Look for the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance on your dental care products. The ADA Seal means these products have met ADA standards for safety and effectiveness.
Smoking, chewing, vaping and dipping puts you at a higher risk for cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Tobacco use can also worsen gum disease and make it harder to treat. If you use tobacco, ask your dentist or physician for information about how to quit.
If you’re experiencing pain, bleeding, or other gum-related issues, it’s important to see a dentist immediately. Treating gum disease in its early stages could save you from more invasive treatment options down the line. Your Aspen Dental care team will be with you every step of the way.