Knowhow-Now Article

The Serious Aspects Of Gum Disease

Think about how important your mouth is to you for a moment.... we use our mouth to eat, drink, speak and we would look pretty strange without our teeth. It is surprising that so few individuals take the time to really do proper dental hygiene at home or when at work. Approximately 80% of the adults in America today have gum disease. Some have the mild form of gum disease called gingivitis and other have the more serious form called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is when there can be some serious damage to your teeth, bone and gum tissue that can lead to tooth loss and possibly systemic bacterial illness.

Gingivitis only affects the gums and periodontitis is more serious because it can affect bone structure, gum tissue and can even cause tooth loss.

There are some things that can increase your risk for gum disease they are:

Smoking or chewing tobacco

Systemic diseases such as cancer or diabetes

Medications that are taken for epilepsy, antihistamines, steroids or cancer drugs.

Having dental work including bridges that are not fitting properly.

Teeth that are crooked

Defective fillings

Oral contraceptives


Advanced Age

Symptoms or warning signs of advanced gum disease are:

Gums that bleed easily and persistently

Gums that are red, swollen and very tender

Gums that have receded from teeth exposing the root

Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth

Permanent teeth that have become loose or loss of a tooth

Change in the way your teeth fit together when you take a bite.

If you wear dentures, a change in the way they fit can mean gum disease

You can have gum disease and not know it because there is usually no pain involved with gingivitis. Most individuals find out they have gingivitis at their dental visit. This is why making regular visits to the dentist every 6 months is so important. Catching gum disease early, allow you to reverse the disease before any real damage is done to your teeth or gums.

There are several treatments that may be done if your gum disease becomes serious. The first treatment is the most non-invasive and is called scaling and root planing. Most dental patients need only this treatment.

Scaling and Root Planing:

Scaling involves removing any calculus from the surface of your teeth and from around the edges of your gum line. Root planing is the smoothing of the rough root surface.


Curettage is the removal of the inner lining of the pocket that is diseased in advanced gum disease. This allows the gums to heal properly.

All three of the above treatments are done using Novocaine and there is usually no discomfort felt during the procedures.

Usually the infection is under control by the time these three procedures are finished.

A follow-up examination will be done to see how the healing process is doing. If the gum has sealed correctly than no further treatments are needed. If there are areas where the gum has not sealed correctly, or there is any damage to the bone support further treatment and possibly surgery will be required.

The goal of dental treatments is to return the mouth to a healthy state and to save as many teeth as possible.

Gum Surgery:

Gum surgery is sometimes necessary and is used to create a new seal or attachment of the gum back to the tooth.

Bone Grafts:

This is done to create a smooth floor of bone to support gum tissue and to help seal the gum to the tooth. Sometimes it is necessary to fill in areas that have been completely destroyed with new bone material. Bone Grafts are obtained from the American Red Cross Tissue Bank.

Gum Graft:

This procedure creates new gum tissue, that will cover up exposed roots.

Crown Lengthening:

The goal of crown lengthening is to reestablish the seal or attachment of the gum to the teeth and is done when the tooth is fractured below the gingiva.

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