Did you know that three out of four Americans today suffer from periodontal disease? Also referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease may only exhibit mild symptoms in its earliest stages, but if it’s left untreated too long, it can lead to serious issues, including pain, tissue deterioration, and even tooth loss.
In addition to harming your oral health, gum disease has been linked to overall health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, pregnancy complications, and more. Our team understands and respects the strong connection between oral and general health. That’s why we offer periodontal therapy in Leesburg, VA to treat the disease and prevent re-occurrences.
Gum or periodontal disease is actually a bacterial infection that begins with plaque buildup. Plaque is a naturally occurring biofilm that accumulates in your mouth every day. While plaque is natural, it’s not beneficial. Hiding in plaque are the bacteria that lead to gum disease and even tooth decay. If not cleaned away with regular brushing and flossing, these bacteria feed on the sugars left in your mouth after you eat, and they excrete toxins that can destroy gum and bone tissue.
As can happen with many infections, you may notice that your gums become red and swollen. They may even bleed when you brush or floss. If plaque is left to fester, then it hardens and becomes tartar. Now, the bacteria are locked in place and will begin to cause further damage. If you experience these symptoms, you may have gum disease:
If the repercussions of gum disease were confined to your mouth, then that would be problematic enough. However, the same inflammation that is associated with gingivitis and periodontitis—the first and second phases of this bacterial infection—is also linked to a number of bodily illnesses and diseases. These include:
Most recently, there is new research that indicates there may be a connection between gum disease and Alzheimer’s disease, too. Therefore, periodontal therapy may not only be crucial for your oral health, but for your general health as well.
At your initial and subsequent hygiene appointments, we’ll check your gums carefully with a clinical examination for any signs of redness or inflammation. We’ll also probe for periodontal pockets beneath the gum line. If pockets exist, they can be indicative of bone loss, and digital X-rays may be needed to determine the extent of the disease. If we discover the presence of gum inflammation without bone loss (gingivitis), treatment typically consists of a thorough dental cleaning and improved, consistent home care. Or, if we discover the additional presence of bone loss (periodontitis), treatment may involve more in-depth procedures, such as those discussed below.
Basically, scaling is an in-depth cleaning that goes deep below the gums’ surface to clear out the periodontal pockets. Once this has been completed, we take the time to smooth out the root surfaces, making it easier for your gums to reattach and more difficult for the infection to return in the future.
In more advanced cases, the gums can recede or pull away from the teeth, exposing the tooth roots. Scaling and root planing address the plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth, and the Chao Pinhole Surgical Technique loosens the gum tissue and helps it resume its former position.
Even with these advanced treatments, harmful gum bacteria can linger and potentially allow an infection to return. To prevent that, we can administer a topical antibiotic that helps eliminate these bacteria and ensures that your teeth and gums have a chance to recover from this serious condition.
We may need to repeat all these treatments about every three to four months to ensure that the infection is completely resolved. If you think you have gum disease, don’t hesitate to contact our team for an appointment.