A guide to periodontics, what it is, how it works, and why it matters to your smile and health
The gums that surround and protect your teeth play a critical role in the appearance and health of your smile. Dr. Alonzo Bell of The Bell Dental Group is proud to offer many advanced treatments and capabilities from his office in Alexandria, Virginia. These capabilities include a wide range of periodontics services to maintain, restore, and sustain those tissues that support your teeth.
Sink your teeth into periodontics
This branch of dentistry refers to the “periodontium,” or the soft and hard tissues that surround, protect, and support the teeth. In addition to the gums, these tissues include:
- The outermost layer of the tooth roots (“cementum”)
- Connective tissues or periodontal ligaments
- The bone that anchors the teeth in the jaws (“alveolar bone”)
Inflammation and infection of the soft, gummy tissues are among the most prominent threats to the structural integrity of your teeth. It’s estimated that around half of adults aged 30 and older will develop gum disease. As a progressive condition, gum disease may be present in its earliest stages, and you may not realize it. Early-stage inflammation or gingivitis is often asymptomatic. If symptoms are present, they may be easily dismissed. The gums may look swollen or redder than “normal.” You may notice blood on your toothbrush or floss.
Since symptoms may not be present, it is essential to maintain appointments with Dr. Bell. During routine dental check-ups, he can “see” even the smallest details or anomalies that might otherwise be missed with advanced x-rays. Early detection of gingivitis prevents the disease from progressing to periodontitis. At this stage, your mouth is vulnerable to irreversible bone and tooth loss. The spaces between the teeth and gums grow larger and behave as reservoirs to collect and store destructive substances such as bacteria and plaque. Chronic periodontitis further breaks down the ligaments, which hold teeth in place and absorb the forces from functions such as chewing food.
Interventions to prevent or halt the progression of gum disease depend on factors such as the extent or severity of the condition. Steps such as measuring the depth of the spaces between the teeth and gums (“periodontal pockets”) can tell us a great deal about the health of your gums and help to inform each patient’s unique treatment plan. Therapies to restore diseased gums include:
- Professional cleanings
- Changes to oral care products
- Recommendations for oral care techniques
- Modifications to nutrition and other risk factors for gum disease
- Replacement or repairs to worn or damaged dental restorations
- “Deep cleaning” (scaling and root planing)
Nonsurgical therapies may be appropriate to treat less advanced cases of periodontitis. More severe periodontitis may require surgical intervention; for instance, pocket reduction to eradicate bacteria. Patients whose gums do not respond properly to home care, lifestyle modifications, and other nonsurgical approaches may also benefit from surgery.
Treatment starts by accurately and thoroughly understanding the nature of your concerns. So, please schedule your appointment with Dr. Bell at our office in Alexandria, VA, today. Call The Bell Dental Group at (571) 349-8027.
The 3 stages of gum disease are gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis is caused by toxins irritating the gum line as a result of plaque buildup. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis includes swelling, sensitivity, and bleeding of the gums during brushing and flossing. Gingivitis can be easily reversed through professional care and good home oral hygiene. Periodontitis is categorized by irreversible bone loss that results from untreated gingivitis. The gums may begin to form a pocket below the gum line which traps food and plaque. Dental treatment and home care can help prevent from further damage, but at this stage, the results are not reversible. Advanced periodontitis is when the fibers and bones supporting the teeth destroyed. This may cause teeth to shift or loosen. Teeth may have to be removed depending on how advanced the disease has become and if treatments are not effective. You can begin by preventing gum disease with good oral health. Pick up a brochure or ask your dentist today.