Many people are aware of the importance of taking care of their teeth but are surprised to learn that their gum health is equally important. The truth is that the gums serve as the foundation for the rest of your smile and also affect your general health, so it’s critical to keep them healthy. Since gum disease is quite common and has so many consequences, Dr. Heim and Dr. Carroll take it very seriously. We monitor your gums closely at each checkup and, when necessary, recommend gum disease treatment in Glastonbury, CT to manage the condition. If you think your gums could use a little help, don’t hesitate to contact us!
Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease occurs when the gums and underlying bone that keep the teeth in place become inflamed and infected. We categorize it into different stages, from the first stage, called gingivitis, to the more moderate and advanced stages called periodontitis.
Plaque and tartar (which are mainly made of bacteria) are often a main factor, but it can also be caused by heredity, age, smoking, and poor oral hygiene. In the beginning stages of gingivitis, symptoms include bleeding after brushing and flossing and red, tender, and swollen gums.
As gum disease progresses, deeper “pockets” form in the gums around each tooth, trapping even more plaque and bacteria and leading to serious infection of the gums and underlying bone. Symptoms at this stage include chronic bad breath, gum recession, loose teeth, and painful chewing. In advanced cases in which the bone is destroyed, the teeth can lose their support and fall out.
Unfortunately, yes, gum disease is very serious for a couple of reasons. First, it’s the #1 cause of tooth loss. But there have also been many studies showing that it increases the risk of:
Given the serious consequences at stake, let us know right away if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above. Although gum disease can’t be cured, we do offer gum disease treatment in Glastonbury to effectively manage it.
Our approach to gum disease can be broken into two main categories: prevention and treatment. Regardless of what state of health your gums are in, we can help you either maintain or improve your gums and greatly lower your risk of tooth loss and general health problems.
Dr. Heim and Dr. Carroll like to be proactive, so the first step to managing your gums is monitoring them during your checkups and keeping accurate records. This allows us to diagnose problems as early as possible and then decide on the best course of action. If we find evidence of gingivitis, we can often intervene to prevent it from progressing. If we diagnose later stages of gum disease, we’ll recommend treatment right away.
To chart your gum health, one of our hygienists will perform a simple gum exam during every checkup, in which we measure the depth of the space between your gums and teeth (what we refer to as “pockets”). Healthy pocket depths are 1-3mm, which make it easy for you to remove much of the plaque that builds up under the gumline with your toothbrush and floss.
Gum disease is indicated when we find pockets that are 4mm or deeper. This makes it harder for you to clean under your gum line, so plaque and bacteria accumulate and lead to infection of the gums (i.e. gum disease). This is where a treatment called scaling and root planing comes in.
Sometimes called a “deep cleaning,” this procedure is a special type of cleaning in which we’ll thoroughly remove the plaque, tartar, and bacteria from the pockets around your teeth. It’s usually done in 2-4 visits, and we’ll start by administering local anesthesia so you stay comfortable throughout.
Scaling involves the use of special tools to remove plaque and tartar from above and below your gumline. Next we’ll “plane” the roots, which simply means smoothing the surfaces to discourage bacteria from re-accumulating in the future. This prevents infection from reoccurring and makes it easier for the gums to heal and the pockets to “shrink” and become shallower.
Finally, we’ll recommend professional maintenance cleanings every three, four, or six months to keep your gums healthy over the long-term. As a dentist in Glastonbury, our goal is to help you enjoy great dental health and overall wellbeing for a lifetime. And with regular preventative visits, you can!