Periodontics is a dental specialty involving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. Our highly-experienced periodontists also specialize in the placement of dental implants.
Eagle Run West Dental Group offers periodontics in Omaha, NE. Here’s how periodontal disease is diagnosed and treated, at our office.
What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is an infection of the mouth’s soft tissues.
When bacteria collects and hardens on the teeth, it becomes tartar. Tartar is hard to remove and can damage your supportive bone structure, leading to problems such as tender, bleeding gums, painful chewing, and tooth loss.
There are two forms of gum disease:
- Gingivitis - Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease that causes swollen, red gums. It can be improved, or completely reversed, with minor periodontal treatment.
- Periodontitis - Periodontitis refers to the more advanced stages of periodontal disease. When tartar makes it into the structural tissue it can damage the gums and jawbone, leading to potential tooth loss.
Symptoms of Periodontal Disease
Gum disease can progress quickly with few warning signs. However, even if you don’t have obvious symptoms of gum disease, you may still have some degree of it.
Symptoms of periodontal disease could include:
- Sensitive, bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Painful chewing
- Receding gums
- Tooth loss
In some cases, periodontal disease may only affect certain teeth, like the molars.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by tartar build-up between and around the teeth. Tartar can easily irritate the mouth’s tissues, causing inflammation. This eventually leads to irritation, which can only be treated by a dentist or periodontist.
In most cases, periodontal disease is caused by poor dental hygiene. When you don’t brush your teeth, or neglect any hard-to-reach places, bacteria can begin to accumulate.
Certain risk factors can also cause gum disease, including:
- Hormonal changes
- Poor nutrition
How is Gum Disease Diagnosed?
- Examination: During your visit, our dentist will examine your mouth for any indication of periodontal disease. We’ll thoroughly look for signs of tartar build-up and/or bleeding throughout your routine check-up.
- Probing: A small instrument, called a probe, is used to measure the pockets between the teeth and the gums. If periodontal disease is present, the pocket will be deeper than three millimeters. The dentist will also inspect the gums for swelling and firmness, teeth movement, and a misaligned bite.
- Dental X-rays: If a deep pocket is observed, dental x-rays may be taken to check for potential bone loss in the area.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Keep in mind that gum disease will not go away on its own.
Treatment will vary depending on the severity of the periodontal disease. In most cases of gingivitis, the dentist will be able to correct the gum line with several deep cleaning techniques. Cases of periodontitis, however, may require surgery, medication, and potentially tooth extraction.
If you’re in the early stages of gingivitis, periodontal disease can be treated with a deep cleaning of the teeth. Deep cleanings are typically performed by the dentist or a dental hygienist during your regular visit.
For those in the late stages of gingivitis, scaling and root planing are non-surgical options. Scaling is a deep cleaning technique that removes tartar from the teeth and below the gumline. Root planing is the removal of plaque and tartar from the root surfaces, which are often hard to reach. Once the gums have been thoroughly cleaned, healing can begin.
If periodontal disease has progressed to periodontitis, more extensive treatment may be needed. When scaling and root planing is not enough, gum surgery will allow the dentist to remove tartar from previously unreachable spots.
Medication may also be prescribed, before or after surgical intervention, to temporarily eliminate bacteria in the mouth.
Periodontal Disease Prevention
Periodontitis or severe cases of periodontal disease are not entirely reversible, so warning signs must be addressed as early as possible.
Practices to reduce the risk of periodontal disease include:
- Brush your teeth - Brushing your teeth, twice a day can eliminate bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
- Floss - Flossing your teeth at least once a day will help to remove plaque from in between the teeth and below the gumline.
- Rinse your mouth - Antibacterial mouthwash will reduce, or temporarily eliminate bacteria in the mouth.
- Visit the dentist - It’s important to visit your dentist at least once a year to receive a deep cleaning and dental check-up.
Gum Disease Treatment in Omaha
If you think you're in need of gum disease treatment in Omaha, schedule an appointment or give us a call at 402-498-8804.