Gum disease — also known as periodontal disease and periodontitis — is an inflammatory condition affecting the tissues surrounding a tooth, and is the leading cause of tooth loss. Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the tissues in the mouth and potential precursor of gum disease. Once gum disease sets in, the toxins produced by the bacteria damage the teeth’s connective tissue and bone, effectively destroying them and fostering tooth loss.

Signs of Gum Disease

Persistent swollen, red or bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity, and bad breath are among the warning signs of periodontal (gum) disease.

Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. We see many patients who have early signs of gum disease and our early preventative treatments yield excellent results and patients keeping their teeth who might have otherwise lost them.

Warning signs of periodontal disease include the following:

  • Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
  • Teeth that are loose or appear to have shifted
  • Pus between your gums and teeth
  • A bad taste in your mouth when chewing certain foods
  • Sores in your mouth Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures or retainers

Causes of Gum Disease

The main cause of periodontal (gum) disease is plaque, but other factors affect the health of your gums. Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss.

Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth and if not removed adequately with proper brushing and flossing will accumulate into tartar ledges(calcium or calculus deposits on the teeth and roots) and produce toxins that eat away at the gums and supporting bone.

Treatment of Gum Disease

The American Academy of Periodontalogy guidelines for the treatment of periodontal or gum disease stress that periodontal health should be achieved in the least invasive and most cost-effective manner.

At Rivertown Dental Associates our Dental Hygienists are also trained as Periodontal Therapists and will perform a procedure called Periodontal Therapy to treat your gum disease.

Often times referred to by the more technical terms of “scaling and root planing” we use high tech ultrasonic instruments to carefully clean the root surfaces and remove all the plaque and calculus [tartar] from the deep periodontal pockets. When we remove the tartar build up from teeth we also smooth surface and make sure no bacterial toxins remain.

Many patients require no anesthetic for this procedure however we recommend the use of topical gel anesthetic or localized placement of anesthetic material. We also offer nitrous oxide relaxation gas during the procedure. Ultimately, your personal preference for comfort is provided.

The final step in Periodontal Therapy is to irrigate the gum pockets with antibiotic solutions and a soothing warm water irrigation and massaging of the gum tissues. As a courtesy to our patients, we also clean and polish the enamel surfaces of your teeth so you leave with a sparkling smile once the procedure is completed.