Receding Gums and Periodontal Disease

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What Causes Receding Gums and How is it Treated?

If you or someone you know has receding gums that are swollen, red, and bleed easily, it could be periodontal disease. If you have been diagnosed with periodontal or gum disease, you may have a lot of questions as to what it is and how the disease is treated. At your appointment, you were probably educated about the disease, but it can be overwhelming. Below we hope to clear up any questions you have regarding gum disease.

What is Periodontal/Gum disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums. Periodontal disease typically starts out as gingivitis which is mild to moderate inflammation of the gums. They can appear red and swollen and bleed easily. Gum disease occurs when plaque and bacteria sit on the teeth and gums. When the plaque is allowed to harden and is not removed by a professional cleaning, gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease fairly quickly.

The gum tissue is the external support structure of your teeth. When you have periodontal disease, this support structure begins to pull away from the teeth so it may appear to you that you have receding gums. When the gums pull away, it creates “pockets.”  These pockets between your teeth and gums trap bacteria causing infection and receding gums.

image illustrating receding gums

This infection not only affects your gums, but it also affects the jaw bone that supports the roots of your teeth keeping them in place. When gum disease progresses without treatment or an improved oral hygiene routine, you will lose bone that supports the teeth causing teeth to become loose. When bone is lost, and gum tissue is loose, teeth can fall out. Check out if smokeless tobacco is harmless.

When gum disease progresses without treatment or an improved oral hygiene routine, you will lose bone that supports the teeth causing teeth to become loose. When bone is lost, and gum tissue is loose, teeth can fall out. Learn how sugar can have an enabling factor of inflammation.

Periodontal Disease Treatment: How is it done?

To treat receding gums caused by periodontal disease, your hygienist or a periodontist (a dentist who has extensive training in the treatment of periodontal disease) will perform a procedure called scaling and root planing. Scaling and planning is also known as a deep cleaning. A deep cleaning is usually a two-part procedure where one side of your mouth is worked on at a time.

Your comfort is our first priority. We will begin by administering gentle anesthesia. Once you are numb and comfortable, specific dental tools will be used to remove the hardened plaque (calculus) and bacteria beneath the gum line. Another tool will be used to smooth out the root of the tooth where bacteria and calculus were attached to make it more difficult for more to reattach. When this procedure is done, your gums should tighten up around your teeth, getting rid of the bacteria-trapping pockets.

man with receding gums

How to keep periodontal disease and receding gums from coming back after treatment?

Unfortunately, gum disease never goes away, but we can keep it stable by doing following things:

  • Coming for professional cleanings called periodontal maintenance every 4 months
  • Brushing twice daily
  • Using Listerine
  • Flossing daily
  • Keeping your diabetes under control. It has been proven that if you have diabetes, you may have a more difficult time keeping periodontal/gum disease under control

Why Can’t I Have a “Normal” Cleaning (Prophylaxis)?

Many patients will ask why a regular cleaning and exam cannot be done instead of the deep cleaning. The reason is because, with  a regular cleaning, our hygienist cannot comfortably clean deep beneath the receding gums to the level that is necessary when you have periodontal disease. If this is not done then the gums tighten around the tooth, trapping the bacteria beneath the gum line.

Trapping the infection is even more detrimental to your teeth and overall health and can cause serious health issues. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Replacing missing teeth is not a cheap dental procedure. Regular cleanings and good oral hygiene at home can help prevent periodontal disease. But, if you do have periodontal disease, a deep cleaning and periodontal maintenance visits are the cheapest dental procedures and can lead to affordable dentistry in the long run. Click here if you want to learn more about the right probiotics for you.

Check out the “I have Advanced Periodontal (Gum) disease” video

Frequently Asked Questions about Gum Disease

Can you get rid of periodontal disease? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers:

Unfortunately, periodontal disease is non-reversible, however, it can be successfully treated. Once a patient has lost bone around their teeth, it is not possible to grow it back. Treatment for periodontal disease starts with a non-surgical treatment called scaling and root planing. This treatment is essentially a deep cleaning under local anesthetic that allows the hygienist to access areas beneath the gum tissue and smooth the surfaces of the roots to remove bacteria that is responsible for creating an immune response in your body.

How can you put periodontal disease in remission? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…

After the initial phase of treatment (deep cleaning), you will be placed on periodontal maintenance, which includes cleanings every few months to help control the growth of the bacteria and put the inflammation in remission. Along with professional treatment, you can practice excellent oral hygiene and try to live an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Why do gums recede? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…

There are a few reasons for gum recession. One of the most common is from aggressive tooth-brushing. Gum tissue is actually quite delicate. A soft or extra-soft bristle toothbrush is more than adequate to thoroughly remove soft plaque each day. Gum disease can cause recession due to bone loss around the teeth. Clenching, grinding and a history of orthodontic treatment can be contributing factors to gum recession as well.

Can taking probiotics help control periodontal disease? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…

Our mouths have a huge variety of bacteria. Some of this bacteria is beneficial and harmless to our health, but some can lead to serious dental problems and contribute to poor overall health if allowed to overgrow. Probiotics can help prevent inflammation in the mouth and body by taking up the space that would have been occupied by harmful bacteria. Probiotics have been shown to have beneficial effects in the prevention of periodontal disease and tooth decay.

What are the stages of periodontal disease? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…

There are four stages of periodontal disease. The earliest stage is gingivitis, which is a reversible, inflammatory condition that causes bleeding, inflamed gums. Each subsequent stage of periodontal disease is distinguished by the severity and extent of bone loss. Unfortunately, periodontal disease does not have very noticeable symptoms for the majority of patients, although some may notice persistent bad breath or bleeding gums. If you suspect that you have gum disease, you should schedule an appointment with your Lincoln, NE dentist for an exam.

What are some home remedies for treating periodontal disease? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…

For patients with active periodontal disease, it is important to be treated professionally by your Lincoln dentist. It is not possible to remove the hardened plaque from the root surfaces of your teeth without professional treatment. Full removal of this debris is critical in the management of your condition. It is important to practice good oral hygiene habits in conjunction with your professional periodontal therapy. Brushing twice daily, flossing daily and using interproximal brushes in areas with severe inflammation can help to disrupt the plaque bacteria that contains harmful pathogens. Using a Listerine mouthwash helps to kill this bacteria and control bleeding. In addition to this, you may want to take a multivitamin, including vitamin D and C as well as a probiotic.

Does periodontal disease go away after treatment? Your Lincoln, NE dentist answers…

Periodontal disease can be successfully treated and many of the signs can be eliminated. In early cases where patients have only minimal bone loss, it is possible to control it with rigorous oral hygiene as well as regular periodontal maintenance protocol with your Lincoln, NE dentist. For patients who have experienced more severe periodontal disease, it may be more challenging to put their case into remission. Patients who suffer from chronic inflammatory medical conditions may have more difficulty controlling their periodontal disease.

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