Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults -- it affects millions of men and women of all ages. The early signs are subtle -- you may not realize you have gum disease until serious damage occurs. At First Impressions Dental Care in Renton, Washington, Dr. Rick Sodergren and Dr. Deborah Gur-Arie help patients prevent gum disease and treat it in all stages, with state-of-the-art procedures and preventive care strategies designed to remove bacteria above and below the gum line. Schedule an evaluation to learn what you can do to prevent gum disease and avoid possible tooth loss.
Gum disease starts when harmful bacteria lodged in plaque and tartar deposits multiply, releasing toxins that cause the gum tissue to shrink and pull away from the surfaces of your teeth. As the gums shrink, they create pockets and spaces that make it easier for the bacteria to migrate down the tooth surface. Over time, the gums recede substantially, exposing the lower portions of the teeth and causing the teeth to weaken and fall out. Poor oral hygiene, eating a lot of sugary or carbohydrate-rich foods, smoking, and some chronic diseases like diabetes can all increase the likelihood you’ll develop gum disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the United States.
Gum disease occurs in “stages.” The first stage is gingivitis, when symptoms first begin to appear. The last stage is periodontitis, when bacteria have moved far down the tooth surface and threaten the health of the tooth. In the very early stages of the disease, very few symptoms appear. As the disease continues without treatment, you may have symptoms such as:
Swollen, red, or tender gums
Chronic bad breath
A persistent or recurring sour taste in your mouth
Tooth soreness, especially when pressure is applied to the tooth
Because gum disease causes very few symptoms in the very early stages, having routine dental checkups and cleanings every six months is very important for “catching” the disease early so it can be treated and tooth damage can be prevented.
Mild to moderate gum disease may be treated with frequent teeth cleanings and improvements in your brushing and flossing habits between office visits. When gum disease is more severe, Dr. Sodergren or Dr. Gur-Arie may recommend deeper cleaning treatments called root planing and scaling. In these procedures, special instruments are used to reach below the gumline and around the tooth roots to remove bacteria. Root planing shaves down the root surfaces, removing tiny bumps and irregularities that can make it easier for bacteria to cling to the roots. When the gums are infected, you may receive antibiotics - either orally or in a gel applied during your treatment - to destroy bacteria that are difficult to reach.