Periodontal Care and Treatment
At Orange Grove Dental in New Port Richey, Florida, Dr. Srividya Vulugundam, and our registered dental hygienist, will make you feel genuinely cared for as they gently but thoroughly maintain your periodontal health and expertly treat any gum inflammation that occurs.
Gum disease is a progressive condition that begins with mild gum inflammation called “gingivitis.” Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that over 50 percent of adults in the United States have this condition. It easily occurs and can be easily combated if it is caught early. That is why we evaluate all our patients for gingivitis or more advanced forms of gum disease every time they come for a professional dental cleaning and their six-month dental check-up. Every individual, of every age, starting at age one, should have a dental exam every six months and a preventive (prophylactic) dental cleaning at least every six months. If you are overdue for a cleaning and/or exam, we are here to serve you and make sure your oral health is maintained. By doing so, you can minimize gum disease, dental decay, and restorative dental treatment throughout your lifetime.
Left untreated, gingivitis commonly advances into more severe infection below the gum line. This stage of the inflammation is called “Periodontitis.” Periodontitis can be effectively treated, but if it is not treated and continues to advance to a severe stage, tooth loss is likely to occur.
Advanced gum disease is the cause of most tooth loss. Chronic infection in the gums destroys gum tissue, tooth ligaments, and bone tissue. Teeth may become loose, and bacteria in gum pockets will erode protective dental enamel. The resulting dental decay perforates the enamel and allows bacteria to reach nerve tissue. A severe tooth ache will then prompt you to seek urgent care in the form of a root canal and crown (if the tooth is not too damaged) or extraction. If a tooth is extracted or falls out due to periodontitis, gum treatment is still needed to reduce bacteria, get infection under control, and save other teeth. Prior to restoring damaged teeth or replacing lost teeth, gum infection will have to be treated.
Don’t be afraid to see a dentist regularly for periodontal evaluation and professional dental cleanings. It is far easier and less costly than waiting until easily preventable damage has occurred and extensive treatment is required.
The Principle Cause of Gum Disease
Gum disease is primarily caused by inadequate oral hygiene that allows bacteria to remain on the teeth and irritate, then infect surrounding gum tissue. Plaque is a biofilm of bacteria that sticks to the surfaces of your teeth, and calculus (tartar) is dental plaque that has hardened with minerals in the saliva and gum tissue fluid. With twice daily brushing and daily flossing, most patients can control the build up of plaque for weeks, perhaps, a few months. But, within about three months, even the most diligent tooth brushers and flossers will start to develop some plaque along the gum line and between teeth. If plaque hardens to calculus, it cannot be removed by brushing and flossing. Even with good oral hygiene, some calculus is likely to build up within six months. That is why regular prophylactic teeth cleaning in the dental office is important for every patient. We’ll remove calculus and plaque, and in the process smooth and polish your tooth surfaces so plaque development is slowed down to a minimum.
Factors that Increase Your Risk for Periodontal Disease
In addition to dental plaque and calculus, there are other factors that increase your risk of developing gum disease. Some of the most common risk factors are:
- Smoking and chewing tobacco
- Crooked, rotated or overlapping teeth because it is difficult to thoroughly clean all teeth surfaces
- Hormonal changes such as pregnancy and menopause
- Poor nutrition (especially diets high in sugar and other simple carbohydrates)
- Cancer treatment
- Some medications
- Mouth breathing
The Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
The changes you might observe in your gum tissue can be so miniscule from day to day that you may be unaware of them for some time. The common symptoms are:
- Red, puffy, and/or sensitive gums,
- Bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth,
- Receding gum tissue, exposing more of the tooth at the roots,
- Separation of the gum tissue from the teeth, forming “gum pockets,”
- An abscess (localized pussy infection) in the gums,
- Loosening of teeth and a change in your bite (the result of infection damaging the periodontal bone, ligaments and gum tissue that surround and hold a tooth),
- Gum discomfort under a bridge or denture, and
- Changes in the fit of a dentures or bridge (the result of chronic periodontal disease eroding tissue and altering the morphology of the jawbone and overlying gum tissue).
Periodontal Disease Treatment
At Orange Grove Dental, we will work diligently to maintain your oral health, but if you have gum disease develop, we will provide more frequent dental cleanings and can provide more advanced treatment until the inflammation is under control. Treatment of periodontal disease depends on the severity of your infection.
In the case of mild to moderate periodontal disease, we will focus on eliminating the bacterial infection with more frequent dental cleanings in our office and instruction on the most appropriate oral home care. Our dentists and our registered dental hygienist will recommend the frequency at which you should have professional teeth cleaning performed.
Sometimes a deep cleaning is needed to remove bacterial plaque and hardened calculus below the gum line and to smooth the dental enamel encasing dental roots. Our dentists and hygienist provide this treatment (called “scaling and root planing”). They also may recommend and treat gum pockets with antimicrobial medication. If you have developed periodontitis and need this treatment below the gum line, we will schedule the treatment as quickly as possible. Your gum tissue will be fully numbed during the procedure to maximize your comfort.
If your gum infection is severe, you may need surgical periodontal treatment to halt infection. Dr. Vulugundam will refer you to a preferred specialist in our community if this is needed and collaborate with this specialist in planning your treatment and educating you about your special needs. This specialist also may be be instrumental in providing surgical services if you are in need of a gum graft or bone graft, and if you choose to have dental implant therapy for lost teeth.
The Importance of Optimal Oral Health for Systemic Health
Extensive scientific evidence has made clear that gum disease affects your entire body. Oral bacteria and viruses enter your blood stream when the gum tissue becomes inflamed or otherwise injured. Heart disease and diabetes are just two of the systemic diseases made worse by gum disease. Our dentists and hygienist will provide you with the advice and treatment you need to lower your risk of chronic periodontal disease and thus other inflammatory diseases of your whole body, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic disease, and more. Every time you come for a visit, we ask you to update us about your medical history and the medications and supplements you are taking.
Who Needs Regular Periodontal Care?
The answer to remember is EVERYONE! All members of the family should have their teeth regularly cleaned and examined. Unless you have a history of gum inflammation or dental disease, are wearing attached orthodontic or prosthetic dental appliances, or are at high risk of developing gum disease due to a systemic disease condition or medical treatment, you likely will be advised to come in for a professional dental cleaning every six months.
Unless there is a history of gum disease of tooth decay, we also typically see our youngest dental patients (children and preteens) at six month intervals. We will give your children compassionate and carefully gentle but thorough dental cleanings and exams.
Note: It is important to preserve primary (“baby”) until the time when they naturally fall out and are replaced by erupting permanent (“adult”) teeth. Starting at age one and prior to age six, most children are best cared for by a pediatric dental specialist (pedodontist). We are a family dental practice that does care for children, beginning when they are around age five or six. In some cases, we see the children of our adult patients as early as age three. Your child needs professional dental cleanings and checkups—just like you!
Welcome to Orange Grove Dental for All Your Dental Needs
At Orange Grove Dental in New Port Richey, we will be delighted to get to know you and provide you with the fine oral health care you deserve, including regular teeth cleaning, dental checkups, periodontal treatment, and restorative care. Contact us today!