Gum disease is a widespread concern. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly half of all Americans suffer from the condition at some point in their lives.
Gum disease is much easier to treat when detected early. Dr. Thomas G. Zarger diagnoses and treats periodontal disease at our Knoxville, TN dental practice. Today, our team discusses treatment for gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Every day, plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. These plaque deposits become a breeding ground for bacteria if not routinely removed though brushing and flossing.
As bacteria populate in the plaque, the gum tissue becomes irritated, leading to tenderness, swelling, and a dark red appearance. Essentially, gingivitis is the body’s inflammatory response to irritants along the gum line.
What Happens if Gingivitis Is Left Untreated?
If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition will worsen. The bacteria present in the plaque above the gum line will seep beneath the gum line, causing infection and bone loss around the roots of the teeth. As a result, deep periodontal pockets can form around the roots, causing mobility and eventual tooth loss.
Because gingivitis has not affected the underlying bone yet, it is much easier to treat compared to moderate or advanced periodontitis. Therefore, it is important to have the condition assessed by a dentist as soon as possible.
Treating gingivitis early can save you a significant amount of time and money in the future. In addition, you can have healthier teeth and gums for many years to come with proper maintenance and care.
Treatment for Gingivitis
If gingivitis is detected early enough, the only treatment necessary is a routine dental cleaning and diligent oral hygiene. During an appointment at our office, your hygienist will remove plaque, tartar, food particles, and other debris from the surfaces of the teeth.
The hygienist will also polish the teeth with a rubber cup and mildly abrasive paste. This helps to remove biofilm and surface stains for a healthier, more brilliant smile.
After your cleaning, our team will demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques. We can help you develop a customized regimen to keep your smile healthy between visits.
What if My Condition Is More Severe?
If your gingivitis has progressed into mild or moderate periodontitis, the condition will most likely be treatable with scaling and root planing, or a deep dental cleaning.
This non-surgical process is somewhat similar to a routine cleaning. However, the gums are also numbed in this case so your hygienist can reach deeper into the gum line, sweeping out harmful bacteria. This treatment is necessary to preserve your oral health. By this point, the infection has developed in hard-to-reach areas that cannot be cleaned with brushing and flossing alone.
Patients with advanced periodontitis will require gum surgery to address the condition. During this treatment, incisions are created along the gum line and the gums are temporarily moved back. This allows your doctor to visualize the areas of concern and effectively eliminate infection. Once the cleaning is complete, the gums are repositioned and sutured into place.
Contact Our Practice for More Information
As you can see, treating gum disease early can help you avoid more invasive, costlier procedures. If you suspect you might have gingivitis, it is important to schedule an appointment with Dr. Zarger right away. Contact us online anytime or give us a call at (865) 693-7631.