Take a look in the mirror. Smile. Are your teeth gleaming white? Good. Now how about the gums? Are they pink, firm, and snug around the teeth? If yes, that’s a great sign. (Though you still need to make sure you’re visiting the dentist every six months, as early-stage gum disease often doesn’t exhibit symptoms.) If not, you should schedule an examination immediately.
At Highland Advanced Dental Care of Highland Township, MI, we will diagnose and treat your gum disease with the most advanced and patient-friendly procedures available. Call us at 248-329-3552 to schedule an appointment.
Gum Disease? What’s That?
Your pearly whites may be strong and cavity free, but if you don’t have robust gums to anchor them in your mouth, you could end up losing teeth regardless. Indeed, for that beautiful, healthy smile you crave, it’s essential to take care of your gums as well as your teeth. Plus, gum disease has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other systemic problems. Maintaining your oral health is an important part of taking care of your body as a whole.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, comes in two forms (though it’s really a continuum of early stage and advanced). Gum disease occurs when bacteria build up and infect the gums. Early-stage gum disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis can often be reversed by regular dental cleanings and good brushing and flossing habits at home. If gingivitis is not treated, it can progress into advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, which requires more invasive treatments to cure.
Gum disease is extremely common — the Centers for Disease Control says that almost 50% of Americans over 30 and over 70% of Americans over 65 have had it in some form — but it is treatable. Untreated gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults. Of course, the best “treatment” is prevention. And the best way to prevent gingivitis is to visit Dr. LoCascio for regular cleanings and exams and practice good oral hygiene at home.
Am I at Risk for Gum Disease?
While anyone can get gum disease, there are factors that make some people more prone to it.
- Age: Older people are more likely to have periodontal disease.
- Tobacco: People who smoke or chew tobacco are at an increased risk for gum disease.
- Systemic disease: People with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or rheumatoid arthritis are more susceptible to gum problems. Some medications also affect gum health.
- Genetics: If gum disease runs in your family, you are more likely to get it.
- Stress: Stress makes it more difficult for your body to fight off infections, including gum disease.
How Will I Know I have Gum Disease?
If it’s in the early stages, you may not notice any symptoms of gum disease. That’s why it’s so important to visit the dentist regularly. Dr. LoCascio will be able to spot signs of gingivitis and enable you to start turning it around early. However, if you do start noticing the following symptoms, it’s a good idea to schedule an examination even if it hasn’t been six months since your last one.
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Gums that are tender and swollen
- Gums that pull away from the teeth, forming “pockets”
- Receding gums
- Teeth that appear longer
- Loose teeth
- Pain or sensitivity while chewing
- Persistent bad breath
How Will Dr. LoCascio Treat my Gum Disease?
Dr. LoCascio will determine what treatment makes sense for you depending on the severity of your gingivitis or periodontitis. For gum disease that will require more than vigilant brushing and flossing to reverse, he may recommend one of the following procedures:
- Root planing and scaling: A nonsurgical deep-cleaning technique (typically done under local anesthetic) that removes bacteria from under the gumline.
- Perio Protect: A bacteria-fighting gel that you “wear” with a mouthguard for a few minutes per day.
- The Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique: A revolutionary procedure that restores receding gums without painful and invasive grafting. Dr. LoCascio is one of only a few dentists in the state trained in this technique.