Periodontal Therapy in Forest Hills

Periodontal disease — or as most people refer to it, “gum disease” — is a chronic infection that causes deterioration of gum and bone tissues around teeth.

The very first phase of gum disease is gingivitis, which consists of minor redness and swelling along the gumlines. It’s caused by bacterial plaque along your gums, triggering an inflammatory response by your immune system.

Fortunately, gingivitis is easily reversible with thorough dental cleanings, brushing your gums, and daily flossing. But if gingivitis is allowed to go untreated, it will eventually spread deeper into the gum tissues and result in irreversible structural damage.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

During your new patient appointment at Forest Hills Dental, Dr. Gregory Mark and our hygienists will perform an extensive periodontal examination on each tooth. This consists of measuring six key points around every tooth to determine the level at which your gums attach to the roots of your teeth.

We’ll also use digital X-rays to assess the bone height between your teeth. Since gum disease destroys bone structure, it’s crucial to diagnose and treat as early as possible.

Some of the common signs of gum disease that you may notice include:

• Bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth
• Bad breath (it’s ok to tell us!)
• Tooth mobility
• “Long teeth” and receding gumlines
• Food getting stuck between your teeth
• Larger spaces between teeth than you used to have

(Please note that smoking or tobacco use can mask symptoms.)

When you’re here for your exam, Dr. Mark will want to make sure that none of your gum pockets (the space between your gums and tooth, up to where the gums attach) are deeper than 3mm. Anything less than 3mm is considered healthy, but deeper pockets are indicative of disease and bone loss.

Treatments for Gum Disease

If Dr. Mark notices multiple deep gum pockets, the next step is to schedule you for a series of periodontal therapy appointments (deep cleanings.) During these visits, we’ll numb one side of your mouth and use special instruments to clean under your gums, against the roots of your teeth.

About a week or two later, you’ll return to have the other side completed. The reason we only clean one side at a time, is because of the extra time involved and so that your entire mouth doesn’t have to be anesthetized at once.

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Adjunctive Procedures

In some cases, periodontal disease can be so aggressive that other treatments are necessary to prevent tooth loss. For instance, gum or bone grafting can help to stabilize teeth at risk for mobility or falling out. Dr. Mark’s extensive training in advanced grafting and surgical techniques allow us to provide a wider range of therapies to our patients, rather than referring you to an offsite specialist. In fact, Dr. Mark mentors for some of the country’s premier dental post-graduate training centers.

Occasionally, our Forest Hills dentist will need to place a small amount of localized antibiotics inside of more diseased gum pockets. These medications are contained in small pellets that are gently excreted into the bottom of the pocket, following a deep cleaning. It’s important not to irrigate or floss them for at least one week, allowing the antibiotic to work as intended without accidentally removing the pellets (which slowly dissolve.)

Soft Tissue Laser Therapy

Dental lasers allow today’s gum disease patients to access non-surgical therapies and improve their chance of recovery. When our soft tissue lasers are combined with conventional periodontal treatments, Dr. Mark can reduce the extent of bacteria that’s present while enhancing the surrounding tissue’s ability to reattach to the roots of teeth (shortening the depth of the pockets.)

Periodontal Maintenance and After Care

Following your full mouth periodontal treatment, it’s crucial to stay on a strict recare and home plan to prevent disease relapse. Most people will need to see our Forest Hills dentist every 3-4 months for maintenance cleanings.

Daily flossing is crucial to remove bacteria from between teeth and deep below the gums, where toothbrushes can’t reach. If flossing is difficult, investing in a water flosser may prove helpful.

The Health Risks of Gum Disease

The most important thing that our Forest Hills periodontal patients need to understand, is that gum disease isn’t just dangerous to your mouth, it’s a danger to your health.

When you have a periodontal infection, it alerts your immune response and raises inflammation inside of your body. Additionally, oral plaque bacteria can spread into your bloodstream through the areas of gum detachment and lodge within vascular walls. They’ve even been found lodged inside of people’s hearts and cerebral (brain) arteries, following heart attacks and strokes.

Here are some of the medical conditions that have been scientifically proven to be liked with gum disease. The worse the periodontal infection is, the more challenging it is to overcome, treat, or manage the other disease.

• Diabetes
• Pneumonia
• Heart attack and stroke
• Erectile dysfunction
• Infertility (both women and men)
• Preeclampsia

And more recently, scientists are starting to find a direct link with Alzheimer’s disease.

By treating your gum disease, you give your body a “boost” to overcome and better manage other underlying health conditions. But only addressing one or the other will allow the cycle of inflammation to continue, making it difficult — if not impossible — for your body to fight off disease.

Is Gum Disease Inherited?

You may have heard people say that bad teeth run in families. To an extent, that’s partially true. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease can be spread from person to person through saliva. So, if you share eating utensils, kiss, or drink from the same cup, there’s a greater chance that the germs will make their way around your family.

Fortunately, with good home care and regular preventative dentistry, you can stop the cycle of gum disease running in your family.

Think You May Have Gum Disease?

If your gums are swollen and bleeding, but you’ve been good about flossing every day for a week, then you need to see our Forest Hills dentist for a periodontal exam. Call us today to make your appointment. We’ve proudly served area families for over two decades!