Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is classically known to lead to tooth loss due to the destruction of the bone support that holds the teeth in the jawbone. In 1962, the average 60-year-old American only had 12 teeth left in their mouth, and gum disease caused most of this tooth loss. Increased patient dental education and gum disease prevention programs have resulted in the slowing down of the disease in terms of bone loss around teeth. Still about 80% of adults are affected by gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease
Gum disease results from active bacteria that form in the “biofilm”. When not adequately removed from the surface of teeth and gum line, the bacteria can move deep into gum tissue causing swelling, bleeding and eventually infection.
As gum disease advances, the gums recede and teeth look longer. Soft root surfaces become exposed, increasing the risk of root decay. Periodontitis, the most advanced stage of gum disease, is characterized by bone loss and often results in loose teeth or lost teeth. Dr. Sowell offers periodontal therapy for all stages of gum disease.
Periodontal Disease Treatment Options
How We Prevent & Manage Gum Disease
In our Plano, Texas office, we are committed to keeping our patients free of early gum disease as we design treatments to eliminate the “biofilm,” not just clear around the root like most insurance-approved treatments. Our treatment model is science-based and not insurance-based. Insurance will cover much of the treatment but not all.
We use saliva samples to identify the bacterial organisms growing in the gums through DNA isolation. With this information, we can target local and, if needed, systemic antibiotics to attack the bacteria concurrently using ultrasonics to stimulate the gums’ immune response to attack the biofilm. Additionally, we can determine if a person is genetically prone to gum disease and for patients with more advanced gum disease (periodontitis), we sometimes use laser therapy to sterilize a root surface and the space around it. This allows us to treat more advanced gum disease without using classical surgical procedures as in the past.
In short, we use literature-supported science and technology to eliminate gum disease and monitor it so we can keep it under control and treat it in its earliest stages, sparing our patients the long-term consequences of gum disease. We use ultrasonics and lasers to treat and accelerate healing as well as keep our patient comfortable by eliminating shots and only using numbing gels.
Link Between Gum Health and Overall Health
While seldom painful and frequently free of any obvious signs or symptoms, periodontal disease can progress undetected to the point where supporting bone is destroyed. Eighty percent of all adults have some form of gingivitis (bacterial infection in the gum) and 40% have periodontitis (bacterial infection in the bone). Early treatment and prevention is essential. While periodontal disease is caused by bacteria, a number of factors, including poorly fitted bridges, badly aligned teeth and defective fillings, contribute to the development of this condition.
Periodontal disease has now been linked to heart disease, making people with periodontal disease two times more at risk for heart disease. It has also been shown to cause low birth weight babies when mothers have periodontal disease. The problem is, the bacteria under the gum is like an open wound, getting into the bloodstream and causing a “bacteremia.”
If you have periodontal disease, we provide nonsurgical treatment designed to remove the bacteria below the gum mechanically. This process may also include the application of site-specific topical and systemic antibiotics and antimicrobials below the gum line to allow the gum tissue to heal. Research shows that the bacteria is contained in a biofilm that is very difficult to completely remove. Therefore, we use “repetitive debridement” technique to eliminate the biofilm.
For patients with advanced periodontal disease or patients not responding to conservative treatment, conservative laser therapy has replaced traditional gum surgery.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
- Age – Studies indicate that older people have the highest rates of periodontal disease.
- Smoking/tobacco use – Tobacco use is linked with many serious illnesses, such as cancer, lung disease and heart disease, as well as numerous other health problems. Tobacco users also are at increased risk for periodontal disease.
- Genetics – Research has indicated that some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be more likely to develop periodontal disease.
- Stress – Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal disease.
- Medications – Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, antidepressants and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. You should inform your dental care provider of all medicines you are taking.
- Clenching or grinding of teeth – Can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
- Systemic diseases – Interfere with the body’s inflammatory system and may worsen the condition of the gums. These include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Poor nutrition and obesity – A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.
Treatment for Gum Recession
Gum disease can cause receding gums which negatively impacts the appearance of the smile and increases the risk for tooth decay. Plano, TX dentist Dr. Sowell offers several treatment options including Emdogain™ technology – a bio-active material that is applied in gel form to the affected area to stimulate regeneration of hard and soft tissue.
- Produces natural-looking results
- Enhances periodontal surgery recovery
- Restores health to gums
- Protects tooth roots from decay
- More comfortable treatment compared to alternatives
Schedule an Appointment
At Sowell Sensational Smiles, you’ll discover many solutions for periodontal disease care. We have helped many of your friends and neighbors throughout Plano, Dallas, Frisco and Southlake County.
Call our Plano office today at (972) 382-6855 or request an appointment online to learn how Dr. Sowell can help you.