Do your gums seem to become irritated easily? Perhaps they occasionally bleed when you brush your teeth, when you floss, or even when you eat certain foods (like corn on the cob). While it may be tempting to write this off as no big deal, the truth is that bleeding gums are a common early sign of periodontal disease, an advanced form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss if not treated. If you have bleeding gums and haven't been to a dentist in more than a year, it's time to schedule an appointment with a periodontist.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Specifically, periodontal disease occurs when plaque builds up underneath the gum line and hardens over time. As this occurs, pockets form deep within the gum line, and bacteria from plaque and tartar eventually invade these pockets and eat away at the bone underneath. Because the jaw bone is a major supporting structure of the teeth, permanent tooth loss can eventually occur as more bone is eroded.
Periodontal disease most often occurs after years of dental neglect, especially among those who don't see a dentist for regular exams and cleanings.
What Are Your Treatment Options?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for periodontal disease. Once the bone loss has occurred, there is no way to restore the lost bone. Still, with the right treatment, the disease can be managed and future bone loss can be avoided.
Generally, professionals in periodontics who diagnose this disease in patients will recommend a procedure known as root planing and scaling. This is essentially a very deep cleaning of not only the teeth, but below the gum line as well. During root planing and scaling, your mouth will be numbed so that you don't feel any pain as the plaque and tartar build-up is removed.
Once root planing and scaling is complete and your gums have a chance to heal, you will likely notice that your gums look and feel much healthier. Instead of being red and inflamed, they should appear pink and healthy; you should no longer encounter bleeding while flossing or brushing anymore, either.
From there, management of your periodontal disease will involve routine deep cleanings in your periodontist's office. Depending on the severity of the disease, you may need these cleanings anywhere from twice to four times per year. These cleanings, in conjunction with great at-home dental hygiene, can prevent the disease from progressing and save your teeth.
For more information, visit an business like The Family Dentist.