One of the first things that we evaluate at Gulf Coast Dental is the health of the tissues that surround and support your teeth known as gingival tissue. These tissues are very important for the longevity of your teeth. Patients may know they have a problem, or may not. Early stages of gum disease is called gingivitis. This can present itself as gums that bleed when flossing or brushing, bad breath, swollen painful tissue around the teeth, or even teeth that are loose. Healthy gingival tissue color can vary with a patients ethnicity, but should always be firm and tight around the teeth, not red, puffy or swollen.
Some factors that can cause gum disease are lack of proper oral hygiene, tobacco use, decreased salivary flow due to medications or disease, misaligned teeth, or can even be genetic. Patients with diabetes are more prone to have gingivitis. Early stages of gingivitis is reversible so it is important to have this treated before it advances. Advanced stages of gum disease is called periodontitis and involves not only the gingival tissue but also the supporting bone. this can cause premature tooth loss if not treated. The loss of bone around the teeth is not reversible so it is important to treat this as soon as possible.
The best treatment for gum disease is prevention. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are essential for good gingival health. We recommend regular cleanings every six months for patients with healthy gingiva. Some patients need cleanings more frequently, and diabetic patients are recommended to have cleanings every 3 months. Some insurance companies cover this also. Periodontitis is treated with initial deep cleanings, sometimes with a local anesthetic, and then regular maintenance usually for 1 year before getting the tissue healthy enough for regular cleanings. Some advanced stages of periodontal disease require a referral to a periodontist for treatment surgically. So brush your teeth twice a day, floss at least once a day, and have your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months to keep your smile healthy for life!
Gulf Coast Dental is committed to helping our patients keep a healthy smile! Give us a call to schedule your exam today!