Gum disease remains a leading cause of tooth loss in adults today and is largely preventable with good oral hygiene and routine dental care. Dr. Ken Schweifler offers personalized dentistry for your oral health needs and periodontal therapy to address the symptoms of gum disease. If you suffer from gum disease, our office in Los Altos, CA can provide you with restorative dentistry options.
Why is gum health important?
The gums play two important roles in both oral and overall health:
- Supporting healthy and stable teeth: the gums serve as the support structure for the teeth and nourish the tooth roots to maintain a stable and healthy smile.
- A barrier for unhealthy bacteria: harmful bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream when gum tissue is compromised by infection. This has been shown to increase the risk of internal inflammation, a component of cardiovascular and systemic diseases.
Dr. Schweifler and our dental care team place an emphasis on the maintenance of gum health and screening for signs of developing the disease during routine dental exams and hygiene appointments. When caught early, we can often address the effects of gum disease with conservative measures. Gum disease is progressive and, if not addressed in the early stages, will continue to impact your dental health and weaken both gum tissue and the stability of the bite.
The Stages of Gum Disease
There are four main stages of gum disease that can take place in your mouth. The only stage where gum disease can be reversed is the first, so we want to focus on treating the condition as soon as possible.
This is the earliest stage of gum disease and the only one that’s reversible. It’s caused by plaque and tartar building up on your teeth at the gum line, causing irritation and inflammation. The early signs of gingivitis aren’t painful, and it can be hard to know you even have the condition. Over half the adult population in the US suffers from gingivitis on some level.
The most prominent symptom of gum disease is bleeding gums. If you notice that your gums are bleeding regularly, like multiple times a week, you should schedule a visit to our office. It’ll most commonly happen when you’re brushing or flossing your teeth. You may also notice that your gums are redder and more swollen than normal.
Mild Periodontal Disease
When gum disease makes it to this stage, it’s no longer able to be reversed. It can only be managed. The bacteria become more aggressive and start attacking your bone structure. Scaling and root planing are used to manage the condition. We deep clean the debris and bacteria out of the gum pockets that have formed. Then, we smooth down the tooth roots so that the gums can reattach themselves to the bone.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
The bacteria continue to get more aggressive and probe deeper. Not only are the bacteria attacking bones, but they’re in the bloodstream as well. This carries the infection and inflammation to other areas throughout the body and can cause complications that range beyond the mouth. Scaling and root planing are used to manage this stage of the disease as well.
Severe Periodontal Disease
At this stage, the infection fully evolves into disease-causing bacteria. Your gums are swollen and red, bleeding and oozing pus. You have severely bad breath, and it’s painful for you to chew and bite. As the gums recede further and your jawbone deteriorates more, your teeth become loose and can fall out. At this stage, only gum surgery or laser periodontal treatment can manage the condition.
Treatment for Gum Disease in Los Altos, CA
Dr. Schweifler will provide the appropriate treatment for your periodontal concerns after a thorough evaluation of your oral health. There is a range of options for addressing the symptoms and effects of gum disease. It is also important to take into consideration any lifestyle habits, medical conditions, or other factors that increase your risk of gum disease. Treatment options can include:
- Antibacterial rinses: for gingivitis and mild symptoms of gum disease, at-home use of an antibacterial rinse can help to minimize infection and prevent the progression of the disease.
- Scaling and root planing: thorough, deep cleaning of all tooth surfaces and along the gum line may be necessary to remove a growing infection and allow tissues to heal.
- Oral surgery or laser gum therapy: for advanced disease where gum tissue is severely compromised, Dr. Schweifler may coordinate treatment with a local specialist. Dr. Schweifler may follow up with additional restorative procedures as needed to address tooth damage.
Periodontal Treatment FAQs
Can children develop gum disease?
Yes. No one is impervious from gum disease, gingivitis, and advanced periodontitis. Children with poor oral hygiene or high rates of tooth decay are susceptible to developing gum disease early on in their lives.
Is gum disease reversible?
Yes, gum disease is reversible and can be easily treated by our dentist. If caught in the early stages, we can cure your gum disease in just a few dental visits. Advanced periodontitis may need more dental visits to reverse its effects, but it is still curable.
Can bleeding gums be cured at home?
You can take steps to stop the progression and reverse the effects of gum disease at home, but only a dentist can diagnose and fully cure your issue. You are more likely to rid yourself of gum disease if you take action as soon as you notice bleeding gums.
Is periodontal therapy treatment expensive?
Periodontal treatments are not that expensive and are usually covered by dental insurance plans. This restorative dental service is a necessary part of maintaining excellent oral health.
How long does it take to heal after scaling and root planing?
It can take five or more days for your gums to heal after scaling and root planing treatments. You may experience swelling and bleeding because bacteria increase the sensitivity of your gum tissue. Warm salt water rinses can help your gums to heal and regenerate.
Do I have gum disease if my gums bleed?
You may not necessarily have gum disease if you experience bleeding gums when you brush your teeth. If you only experience bleeding and irritated gum tissue, you may have gingivitis or gum inflammation. However, if you experience additional symptoms, including chronic gum pain or receding gums, you likely have gum disease.
Schedule A Dental Appointment
If you have concerns about the health of your gums, schedule a visit to our Los Altos dentist office with Dr. Schweifler. We can provide dental care that is individualized to your needs for a lasting outcome. Contact our office at (650) 489-4620 or request an appointment online.