So many factors affect gum disease besides good dental hygiene that it is no wonder it can happen to many of us, no matter how much we take care of our teeth. It can be inevitable, kind of like taxes. Still, we can do our best to ward off potential problems and save ourselves unnecessary procedures in the future.
Gum disease, or periodontitis, starts to develop when bacteria grows in your mouth over time. It is usually preceded by gingivitis, easily recognizable if your gums become inflamed and if they easily bleed during brushing. This is the time for you to act, because at this point your teeth are still firmly anchored in your gums and no irreversible tissue or bone damage has occurred. If left untreated, however, you will then have to deal with periodontitis.
In case of periodontitis, the inner layer of bone and gums separates from your teeth and form places that collect debris which then become infected. In this situation of “friendly fire,” the body’s immune system gets to work to fight the bacteria by creating enzymes which unfortunately combine with toxins from the bacteria in plaque and start to break down the connective tissue and bone that holds your teeth in place. This loosens individual teeth, and the more the disease progresses, the bigger the chances you will lose one or more of your teeth.
Gum disease might seem like something only adults suffer from but it affects people of all ages. So, while teens may feel – and often appear to be – indestructible, their gums tell a different tale.
TeenHealth.com reports that 60 percent of 15-year-olds already have gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. Even more sobering, other studies show that teenage girls may be at higher risk of gum disease due to their hormonal changes.
This is bad news for teenagers, who may have bad breath or sore gums as the result of gingivitis. But there’s also good news: gum disease can easily be treated and prevented.
Treatment of gingivitis usually involves a scaling and root planing treatment (SRP) – also known as “deep cleaning” – to remove plaque and tartar buildup below the gum line. Just one SRP treatment can reverse the signs of gingivitis and prevent gum disease from progressing.
After SRP treatment, prevent gingivitis from returning by: brushing at least twice daily, flossing at least once daily, getting dental cleanings twice a year AND eating healthy foods. The last one might be the biggest challenge since eating tooth-and-gum-friendly foods trip most teens up; sweets, sodas, energy drinks and sports drinks are all heavily marketed to and largely consumed by teenagers.
You can make it easier for your teen to choose healthy options for their teeth and body by ensuring the refrigerator is always stocked with things like fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and water.
If your teen suffers from gingivitis, or you’re concerned about his or her oral healthcare habits, give us a call for an appointment. We’re definitely here for you and serve as an essential barrier against gum disease.
If the situation is severe enough, flap surgery is the one to go for. Flap surgery will clean your roots and tooth, as well as repair bone damage caused by gum disease. While the name may seem strange at first, it is very appropriate considering that flap surgery will have your gums lifted or folded back in the form of a flap.
Once your dentist has determined that the surgery is truly needed, he or she will prepare your teeth by removing all the plaque and tartar from around them. During the procedure itself, your gums will be separated from your teeth with a scalpel. Do not worry as you will receive a local anesthetic before that, so the whole thing is pretty much painless.
After the gums are lifted back, tarter and plaque from around your root will be removed. If there is any bone damage, the irregular surfaces will be smoothed, making sure there are fewer areas in your mouth where bacteria can hide. After the procedure is over, the gums are placed back so that the tissue fits tightly around the tooth or teeth.
The main point of flap surgery, apart from repairing any damage, is to make sure there are fewer spots in your mouth where bacteria can hide and thrive. Once the procedure is done, you should be able to clean and maintain your teeth much more effectively, preserving your gums’ health.
Nobody wants to go “under the knife” more than absolutely necessary, so keep your dental hygiene spotless and your dental checkups regular, and this should be the only time your dentist will have to reach for the scalpel.