Gingivitis, also known as mild gum disease or periodontal disease, is a fairly common ailment. However, gum disease that isn’t treated properly can quickly develop into something more severe. Our specialists at The Happy Tooth in Chapel Hill, NC. We’re here to help you tackle the topic of gum disease, and what a dentist can do to help you treat it.
What Can a Dentist Do To Treat Gingivitis?
A Professional Cleaning Is the Silver Bullet for Gum Disease
There are hundreds of home treatment articles for gingivitis floating around the web. The truth is, a professional dental cleaning is the most effective treatment for this tricky disease. While you may struggle at home to find a fix that actually works, you’ll be losing time and potentially allowing the gum disease to progress.
When caught early on, a simple, thorough cleaning is a very effective treatment for mild gum disease. A dentist has all the tools and experience needed to find any problem areas that need to be addressed. They are able to provide you with a more meticulous cleaning than you’ll be able to do at home. This means faster results and a better success rate of treatment.
Having Your Dental Restorations Cleaned or Fixed Can Make a World of Difference
Some dental restorations can contribute to the development of gum disease. One example would be how fillings can overhang slightly over the surface of the tooth. This creates small grooves between the surface of the tooth and the surface of the filling. These grooves are prime real estate for plaque and bacteria to build up. A dentist will be able to get those more difficult areas clean for you.
Fixing a Fit Issue
In some cases, your dentist may be able to correct certain issues with your restorations that could be contributing to the development of gum disease. If you have implants, dentures, or bridges irritating your gums, your dentist may be able to make adjustments for you. This can help increase your daily comfort level, as well as prevent gum irritation and ailments.
Correcting Misaligned Teeth
Crooked or misaligned teeth are more difficult to get thoroughly clean. Some of the overlap areas between misaligned teeth can especially prove to be a cleaning challenge and can contribute to gum disease and cavities.
Your dentist can help you decide the right course of action to correct crooked teeth. Some of the options they may recommend could be braces or Invisalign. We offer Invisalign and multiple braces options at The Happy Tooth. A consultation will be able to help you determine the right fit for you and your smile.
A Dentist Can Help You Formulate a Long-Term Treatment Plan
Gum disease can be both acute and chronic. In addition to providing the most effective immediate treatment, a dentist will also be able to give you long term support. Your dentist will be able to judge the severity of the gum disease and come up with a treatment plan to get the health of your gums back where it needs to be.
In more severe cases, your dentist may recommend several treatments to prevent tooth decay and gum recession. In more mild cases of gum disease, your treatment may look like a single cleaning, and follow-up care recommendations.
Regular Dental Appointments
One of the best follow-ups to your treatment will be to keep up on routine dental appointments. This isn’t just a treatment for gum disease, it’s prevention as well. Even despite your best efforts to properly clean at home, a dentist can clean areas that are hard or impossible for you to reach on your own.
During routine appointments, your dentist may also be able to catch early signs of gum disease before it becomes obviously symptomatic. This is an ideal situation. The earlier gum disease is caught, the easier it is to treat. Nipping gum disease in the bud will stop it from developing painful symptoms or damaging your teeth.
The Right Toothbrush
Your dentist can help you determine if the toothbrush you have at home is enough to keep your teeth and gums healthy between dental appointments. Electric toothbrushes can make it much easier to achieve a good cleaning at home. Replacing the head of your electric toothbrush, or your regular toothbrush entirely, about every four months can help ensure you’re getting the best clean that you can.
The Right Oral Care Schedule and Technique
Another thing to keep in mind when it comes to preventing gum issues is the right daily cleaning schedule. Brushing your teeth at least twice a day can be a big help in reducing and delaying plaque development. Flossing, likewise, should be a daily occurrence. While brushing, try not to brush too hard. This can actually harm your teeth. A longer, more gentle brushing is better for your oral health.
The Right Dietary Choices
By taking an in-depth look at your oral health, a dentist can help make dietary adjustment recommendations as a way to reduce the occurrence or severity of gum disease. Some of the common recommendations given would be to quit smoking and tobacco use, and to limit sugary and acidic foods.
However, a good diet for oral health is more than limiting sugar. The right balance of calcium and phosphorus in the diet, as well as the right amount of vitamin D, can encourage the overall health of your teeth and gums. Your dentist may be able to make recommendations when it comes to some of these diet adjustments or recommend a dietitian for further help and insight.
Dentists Can Safely Remove Tartar
Tartar is a solid substance that forms from plaque. Tartar is one of the biggest contributing factors for the development of gum disease. The problem is, once your plaque becomes tartar, you can’t safely remove it at home. If you try to scratch it off yourself, you could cause tooth damage. This damage could lead to worse issues such as tooth decay.
A dentist will be able to professionally remove your tartar in a way that protects your teeth and gums. The best way to have tartar addressed is through regular cleanings. The longer you go between cleanings, the more time tartar has to develop, and the more difficult removal will be. Tartar can also begin to develop under the gum line, which a dentist will be able to find and address.
Scaling and Root Planing Could Save Your Teeth
If gum disease progresses to the point where you are seeing gum recession or pockets, you may need a more serious cleaning. Gum disease can eventually lead to your teeth being weakened, and if untreated can lead to tooth death and loss. Scaling and root planing helps prevent this tooth loss.
During scaling, your dentist will remove all of the plaque and tartar stuck to the surface of your teeth. They will then clean below the receding gum-line and in the pockets between your gums and teeth, where tartar is likely causing gum disease and decay. After that, the next step would be root planing, in which the dentist can smooth over your tooth to encourage your tooth and gum to reattach.
Dentists Can Stop Mild Gum Disease Before It Becomes Periodontitis
The natural progression of untreated gum disease is periodontitis. Telling the two apart can be difficult, as they share many of the same symptoms. The difference is with periodontitis, you may begin to notice your teeth feeling loose or sensitive.
How Serious Is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a deeper gum infection. As it continues to develop, it will begin to damage the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. Eventually, this will lead to the affected teeth becoming looser. As the decay continues, the root of your teeth will have no way to sustain the tooth, and the tooth will die. In addition, this infection is considered a risk factor for lung and heart ailments.
Dentists Can Catch Other Issues With Similar Symptoms
One of the problems with trying to treat mild gum disease at home is you may be treating the wrong issue. A dentist will be able to help diagnose the root of the problem so that the right treatment can be administered. If you are treating at home for gum disease, when you really have another issue with similar symptoms, you could be wasting valuable treatment time.
The dull pain that can present with a cavity can sometimes be misinterpreted as originating from the gums. Cavities can be difficult to spot at home, and if you don’t see one, you may assume you don’t have one. Cavities can develop on the surface of the tooth, between neighboring teeth, or down in the pulp of the tooth.
Thrush can cause bad breath, red gums, and soreness in the mouth. All of these are symptoms it shares with gum disease. It often presents with lesions as well, which a dentist can test if needed. Oral thrush can be indicative of an underlying health issue, so it’s important to have it looked at by a dentist as soon as you notice it.
Cancer in the gums can cause a red, swollen patch over the gums. It can also cause loose teeth, which is a shared symptom with periodontitis. While oral cancer is more common in patients who smoke, no one is immune. With oral cancer, you may notice more of a radiating pain that can travel to your jaw and your ear. You may also notice a sore that isn’t healing.
If you have any reason to suspect oral cancer, it’s imperative to have a dentist examine you as quickly as possible.
Gingivitis and Treatment FAQ:
1. What Causes Mild Gum Disease, and Why Is a Dentist Visit a Good Idea?
In summary, mild gum disease generally develops when plaque hardens into tartar. The plaque itself can mostly be removed at home, but there will often be bits of it you aren’t able to get. Once it develops into tartar, a dentist is required for removal.
2. What Are the Symptoms of Mild Gum Disease?
The most common symptoms of mild gum disease are:
- Tender, swollen gums
- Gums that are darker than usual
- Bleeding during routine brushing and flossing
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
3. Can I Treat It at Home?
The symptoms of gum disease may be able to be soothed at home through various means. However, if you have gingivitis it’s usually a sign that something in your oral care routine isn’t working as effectively as it should be. Regular dental appointments will address the cause of gingivitis, as well as provide the treatment you need to get rid of this painful condition as quickly as possible.
Are You Ready for a Healthier Smile?
If you are ready to get rid of gum disease for good, contact us at The Happy Tooth to get the treatment you need. We are located in Chapel Hill, NC, but we also have multiple other locations throughout North Carolina. We are proud of our work helping patients live healthier, more comfortable lives.