Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is caused by the growth of bacteria in the mouth. The bacteria in plaque naturally occurs in the mouth, but when it is allowed to build up, it can cause tooth decay and gum disease. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to widespread tooth and bone loss. Gum disease affects more than just your smile; connections have been made between your oral health and heart disease, diabetes, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and more. Dr. John Goodman can help you understand everything you need to know about periodontal disease at his Kansas City practice. If you have noticed red, swollen, puffy, or bleeding gums, you may already be experiencing the early stages of gum disease. Contact our office to make an appointment with Dr. Goodman and learn more about protecting your periodontal health.
Common Risk Factors
The primary cause of gum disease is the accumulation of bacteria and plaque that hardens on the teeth and gums, where it becomes tartar. This is typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits which can be made more difficult by misaligned teeth. It becomes increasingly common in our senior dental patients. Some other common factors that contribute to poor oral health can include:
- Tobacco use - Not surprisingly, smoking and the use of other tobacco products have been shown to be one of the most significant risk factors in developing and exacerbating periodontal disease.
- Pregnancy - The hormonal changes that are brought on by pregnancy affect tissue throughout the body, including the gums.
- Medications - Oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain medications for heart conditions can negatively affect your periodontal health.
- Bruxism - Patients who grind their teeth put excessive force on the surrounding tissue, which can exacerbate periodontal disease.
- Poor nutrition - An unhealthy diet can compromise your immune system, which will make it more difficult for your body to fight off gum disease.
In addition, it is important to know whether you have a family history of periodontal disease. Patients who do are more likely to develop gum disease than those who are not genetically susceptible.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
In the early stages of gum disease, a prescription mouthwash is often sufficient to treat the condition. With proper use, specialized mouthwashes can inhibit dental plaque from adhering to the surface of the tooth. Your dentist may also review dental hygiene techniques with you, and ensure you are flossing properly.
For more advanced cases, Dr. Goodman may perform a deep cleaning in our office. This procedure, called scaling and root planing, can be beneficial to remove plaque and tartar that has built up. This treatment is similar to a standard cleaning, but our hygienists will go deeper into the pockets between your teeth and gums to restore your oral health. We can also deliver antimicrobial medications directly to the affected areas of your mouth.
If more conservative methods fail to bring your periodontal disease under control, Dr. Goodman may recommend a surgical intervention. Which type of periodontal surgery your doctor chooses will depend on your unique condition. Soft tissue grafting and regenerative procedures can create more healthy gum tissue, for example, or pocket reduction surgery may be recommended to eliminate any problem areas where bacteria continually deposits.
Schedule an Appointment
If you are concerned about your gum health, or have received a diagnosis and are exploring your periodontal treatment options, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Goodman.