The most common disease in the United States is not what you may think. Heart disease, stroke, or cancer come to mind, but actually gum disease is the single most prevalent disease in America. In fact, it affects more people than heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, and cancer combined. About 80% of the population has some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis (advanced), and gingivitis (mild).
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support teeth, and it usually starts early in life, then progresses as a person ages. It all starts when plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus) below the gum line. This irritates vulnerable soft tissues and infection can set in. Combined with decaying food particles lodged between teeth and bacteria emitted by plaque, the infection can spread quickly. Symptoms are so mild in the early phase, many patients don't recognize them: red, tender, swollen gums, bleeding when brushing teeth.
As the condition progresses, gums recede from teeth and pockets of bacteria form. The bacteria can destroy gum tissue and bone, ultimately causing loss of one or many teeth. The worst part is that there is usually no pain until it is too late!
Why is Gum Disease so Serious?
Recent research reveals that gum disease is linked to increased risk for major overall health problems, including but not limited to stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, diabetes complications, low birth weight, and most recently, dementia. Because of these findings, research continues. We may learn much more in the next few years.
It makes perfect sense, though – gum disease linked to overall health problems. Everything that enters or is present in the mouth has access to the whole body. The mouth is like a portal to the body. That's why regular checkups and hygiene visits are vital to not only oral health, but also overall health.
Is Gum Disease Curable?
Yes and No. Yes, because the disease can be halted, but no because once there is bone loss, sometimes you can never get it back. It is much easier to compare Gum disease to diabetes. Gum Disease, like diabetes, is not really curable, however it can be managed very well AND it is possible to even eliminate all of the signs and symptoms. We can detect early warning signs of gum disease at your regular dental checkups. At this stage, prevention might be as simple as changing your brushing technique, improving your flossing routine, or changing the products you use for oral care at home.
Once gum disease sets in, we usually start with non-surgical therapy including:
- Scaling - to remove hardened plaque from below the gum line
- Root Planing - to smooth and reduce rough areas on the roots below the gumline
- Antibiotic Therapy - to battle infection in local deep pockets
- Laser Treatment - to remove bacteria and promote gum reattachment
If a conservative, non-surgical approach cannot eliminate all of the disease process, we are fortunate to have a periodontist as part of our team!
Expect to attend more frequent hygiene visits so that a dentist or hygienist can monitor your condition and make sure that recovery is on track.
Moderate to advanced cases may require the care of a periodontist (a gum disease specialist). Surgery may be needed to eliminate diseased gum tissues, replace missing teeth with dental implants, or to do bone or soft-tissue grafts. These can sound like scary procedures. However, the latest surgical techniques have made these procedures much easier than they were just a couple years ago. If stress and anxiety are a problem, please read up on our I.V. and Oral Sedation options which can enable you to proceed with needed treatment (with MUCH less stress)!
Before and after therapy, expect to have more frequent hygiene visits so that Dr. Wagner and his team can monitor your condition and make sure that your recovery is on track.
What is Laser Treatment for Gum Disease?
Combined with comprehensive periodontal therapy, a diode laser for soft tissue procedures can remove and reduce some periodontal infection. This type of treatment also promotes reattachment of gum tissue to teeth. Laser dentistry is precise and conservative in comparison to traditional therapies. Some patients do not even need anesthesia during laser therapy.
Part of Dr. Wagner's plan for ECCELLA, was to have a Periodontist as part of the team. This is a level of service that very few offices can provide in-house. A periodontist is a dentist who has received an additional two or three years of focused training. A periodontist specializes in all issues and surgical techniques pertaining to the gums, including gum disease therapy. Our board-certified periodontist can treat gum disease effectively, right from our office. Dr. Wagner oversees all periodontal treatments. This is particularly important when planning detailed treatment plans with our Periodontist ensuring your gums stay healthy for the long-term.
Discover the Difference
Call our Jacksonville Beach dental office today and reserve your appointment with general and cosmetic dentist Dr. Scott Wagner. Located in Jacksonville Beach, patients visit our office from across the nation, as well as the surrounding areas of Atlantic Beach, Neptune Beach, St. Augustine, and Ponte Vedra.