Protecting your smile is not just about how white your teeth are or how straight they are aligned. Your gums are an integral part of the equation, in not only your oral health but your overall health as well. While many people may believe their gums are healthy, they are often surprised to learn that may not be the case. The symptoms of gum disease, also referred to as periodontal disease, are usually painless at first and sneak up on some of the most unbeknownst cavity free, pearly white teeth. Several research studies have even indicated a link between periodontal disease with heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain cancers, and tooth loss.
But the good news here is that gum disease is preventable with proper dental care. The first step to combatting gum disease is to enlist experienced professionals like the dentists at SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in New York City. Our dentists have extensive knowledge and training in the areas periodontal dentistry to expertly aid in the diagnosis and treatment of their patients who suffer from gum disease. Learn more about ways to prevent gum disease as well as surgical options if treatment is deemed necessary.
Gum disease explained
Also called periodontal disease, gum disease is essentially an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Our mouths are full of bacteria, and poor oral hygiene can allow a sticky, colorless bacteria known as plaque to build up and harden around the teeth. While brushing and flossing helps remove this buildup, plaque that is not removed turns into tartar and sits on the enamel of your teeth. Only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can effectively remove tartar.
When left on the teeth, tartar and plaque work together to create a form of gum disease called gingivitis. Gingivitis happens when plaque builds up on teeth and causes the surrounding gum tissue to become inflamed. Plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums, making them red or puffy, or causing them to bleed.
As the disease progresses untreated, advanced stages of periodontal disease can lead to sore and bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss. That’s why it is important to treat and diagnose gum disease as it can spread through your mouth, into the roots of your teeth, into your jawbone and even your muscles.
Symptoms of gum disease
Healthy gums are firm, pink, and fit snugly around your teeth. The earliest signs of gum disease are often undetectable by the unprofessional eye. It is essential to schedule regular appointments with the dentists at SmilesNY. They are able to determine the early warning signs during routine cleanings and exams.
Signs and symptoms of unhealthy gums in New York City area men and women include swelling, discoloration, tender to touch, bleed easily, pulling away from the tooth, new spaces around your teeth, bad breath, loose teeth, painful chewing, and bite changes.
Surgical treatment options
Unfortunately, when patients reach the advanced stages of gum disease, they may need surgical treatment. The dentists at SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in New York City offer the following services:
Gum disease often forces the gums to recede and present a higher gum line which exposes the tooth’s roots. Treatment options for periodontal disease treatment may include surgical gum grafting to revive your gum line. Connective-tissue grafts are the most common type used. This procedure involves making an incision in the roof of your mouth to create a small flap of skin. The connective tissue is removed from the flap and attached to your gums, thus correcting the root exposure.
Gum surgery helps patients in New York City who have periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease. Depending on the extent of your condition, there are three common types of gum surgery performed at SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry — gingival flap surgery, gingivectomy, and a gingivoplasty.
Gingival flap surgery. This procedure involves surgical cuts in the gums that form a flap from the teeth, exposing enamel, roots, and bone of the supporting teeth. A deep cleaning eliminates the plaque build-up and excess inflamed tissue. The recessed gum tissue is adjusted to the correct position and then stitched back in place.
Gingivectomy. This removes and reshapes a portion of the severely diseased gum. It is recommended before the disease affects the supporting bone of the tooth.
Gingivoplasty. A gingivoplasty is a cosmetic dental procedure that improves and reshapes your gums after gum disease has been treated, restoring the proper function and making them aesthetically appealing.
Preventing gum disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good, consistent oral hygiene. The following checklist can help ensure your beautiful smile lasts a lifetime:
Flossing at least once a day helps to remove plaque and food that may be lodged between your teeth. Your toothbrush is a terrific tool, but it cannot reach every crevice.
2. Brush twice daily
Men and women who brush their teeth between meals help to remove plaque and buildup trapped in between your gums and teeth. Also, do not forget about your tongue. Use your soft bristled brush to scrub your tongue to help reduce leftover bacteria.
3. Fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash
It can be challenging to know which oral hygiene products are your best options. When shopping, choose a fluoride toothpaste and a therapeutic mouthwash. When combined, the two products can help reduce the rate at which plaque and tartar build-up on the enamel of your teeth.
4. Visit your dentist
Schedule appointments at your dentist twice a year for an oral health exam and professional cleaning. Dental exams allow the dentists at SmilesNY to catch problems like gingivitis when it first appears. Remember, only professional dental cleaning can remove built-up plaque and tartar. For patients with dental anxiety, our office in New York City offers different sedation dentistry techniques to ease your anxiety so you can get these crucial exams and cleanings and avoid future issues.
5. Give up Tobacco use
Adults who use tobacco products (smoking, chewing, or vaping) are strongly associated with the onset of gum disease and oral cancer. Tobacco use weakens the immune system, making it harder to fight off infection and recover afterward.
Protect your gums against disease
Preventative care is essential in the fight against gum disease. Find a dentist you trust and visit at least twice a year for checkups and cleanings. At SmilesNY Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry in New York City, NY we are skilled in preventing, diagnosing, and treating gum disease as well as other dental health issues. Call our office today and schedule an appointment to kickstart your path towards optimal oral health.