Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is the technical term for gum disease. Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the gum which results in inflammation and bleeding.
Causes of Periodontitis
The most common cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. Failure to brush and floss your teeth properly will eventually result in bacteria affecting your gum.
Diabetes, hormonal changes, and genetic susceptibility can all result in gum disease. Smoking and various medications or treatments for other, unrelated issues can also be risk factors for harbouring harmful bacteria.
Early symptoms of gum disease are very easy to spot. Redness, soreness, swelling, and gum bleeding are all early signs of disease. This stage is referred to as gingivitis, which means inflammation of the gum.
Gums should not bleed unless there’s a cut. Unexplained bleeding, particularly when brushing or flossing, is a certain sign of gingivitis and therefor gum disease.
Other signs and symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Metal taste in the mouth
- Sensitive teeth
Periodontitis begins with plaque build-up. This is a clear, sticky substances that contains bacteria which collects around your teeth. When it hardens, it’s called tartar. This tartar can’t be removed through simple brushing and flossing, and will need to be cleaned off by a dentist
From here, the infection begins. At first it manifests itself as redness, soreness, and bleeding of the gums. This is the first stage, gingivitis.
The second stage is periodontitis, by which time the infection has taken hold around the root of the tooth. This infection causes the gum to pull away from the root, resulting in swelling, bleeding, and tenderness. Pockets of bacteria then begin to grow around the root and infect surrounding tissue.
Eventually, if left long enough, the periodontitis will start to weaken the foundation of the tooth. This can and, if left too long, ultimately will, result in the tooth falling out. Surrounding bone tissue will also be compromised. Treatment at this point will be costly and time consuming.
Gingivitis is easy to manage for the patient themselves. Simple good oral hygiene will treat gingivitis. A six-monthly checkup with your dentist will ensure your mouth stays in good help.
If the disease progresses from gingivitis to periodontitis, professional treatment becomes necessary. That’s where laser therapy comes in.
Dental Laser Therapy
Laser dentistry is one of the fastest growing and most effective treatment methods in the world today. There are many types of dental lasers in use, but the ones that are used to treat periodontitis are usually soft tissue lasers, ideal for treating gums.
Treating Gum Disease
Gum disease-causing bacteria lives around the root of the tooth. Traditionally, a dentist would need to cut and peel back the gum to gain access to the affected area. Diseased tissue is scraped and cleaned away, and then the gum stitched back together to heal.
Traditional gum disease treatment is considered an invasive procedure due to the surgical nature of cutting and resealing the gum.
Using Laser Therapy
Dental lasers are much less invasive than traditional means. It’s even possible to treat gum disease without slicing the gum open.
A specially designed head is used to position the laser between the gum and the tooth. This laser then uses a specific wavelength of light to heat and destroy the bacteria.
Compared to traditional methods, there are many benefits to using a dental laser to treat gum disease:
- The procedure is less invasive. There’s no need to cut and suture the gum back into place.
- Patient discomfort is minimized during the procedure. Use of dental lasers is much more tolerable to most patients than cutting and scraping tools.
- Post-operative care is kept to a minimum. There’s little, if any, post-operative bleeding, which reduces the chance of another infection taking hold. Post-operative soreness and swelling passes much faster, and there’s no time spent waiting for sutures to heal and be removed.
- Less tissue is removed during the procedure. The dental laser is much more precise than the older cutting and scraping tools, so less healthy tissue needs to be removed along with the diseased tissue. This in turn results in a noticeable improvement in remaining gum tissue volume when compared to traditional methods.
Getting Laser Therapy in NW Calgary
Laser gum disease treatment is generally carried out over two, 2-hour appointments. This ensures the dentist is able to remove all of the bacteria and infected tissue to prevent the infection from returning.
After the operation your healthy tissue will continue to heal and grow back. This can take 6-12 months in total. You may regain full gum volume, or you might not. It largely depends on the severity of the infection at the time of treatment and how much tissue needed to be removed.
There are fewer post-operative checkups with laser dentistry than with traditional treatment methods, as there’s less post-operative healing. This makes it an ideal treatment for time-poor patients who can’t make repeated follow-ups over the next few months.
Who Can Get Laser Therapy?
If you need to treat your gum disease, you can get laser therapy. There are no contra-indicators for the treatment specifically. Particularly severe cases may require surgical intervention, particularly if the surrounding bone has been compromised, but this will be discussed with your dentist.
Laser therapy is particularly ideal for anxious patients who struggle with the idea of sharp surgical instruments in or around their mouth. Anxiety is much less likely to be triggered by the simple laser head, which simply looks like a curved piece of metal.
Gum Disease FAQ
Gingivitis, Periodontitis — What’s the Difference?
Gingivitis and periodontitis are both stages of gum disease. The former is the early stages and means swelling or inflammation of the gum. The second stage refers to when the bacterial infection has reached the root of the tooth and is affecting the connective tissue with the gum.
How do I Prevent Gum Disease?
The best way to prevent gum disease is to observe healthy oral hygiene habits. Brush and floss twice a day, limit smoking and drinking, and clean any injuries to the mouth immediately.
Some people are genetically predisposed to the condition, have medication which might make them more susceptible, or have other medical conditions which put them at risk. These people may not be able to prevent gum disease, but by going to regular checkups and engaging in early intervention can prevent major issues.
How Serious is Gum Disease?
If left long enough, very. Besides losing teeth, the infection can get into the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. Pregnant women with gum disease should be treated immediately, as the infection can affect their children. People with periodontitis are more susceptible to cardiovascular issues.
Sore, bleeding gums might not seem like a big problem, but if left too long can have devastating consequences.
Laser Therapy FAQ
Is Laser Therapy Painful?
With any procedure there’ll be some level of discomfort, either during or after the procedure as you heal. Even though laser is largely painless, the area is still numbed for the patient’s comfort.
There will be soreness and swelling post-operatively, but this is shorter-lived than with traditional methods and easily managed.
Is It More Expensive?
The cost of laser therapy is comparable to traditional methods. The severity of the condition will determine the overall cost. In the long run, laser is generally cheaper due to less follow-up visits and superior healing times.
Is It Dangerous?
Laser therapy is no more dangerous than traditional dental therapy.
Remember that preventative care is the most effective way to avoid getting periodontal disease. While laser therapy in NW Calgary is a promising technology, consistent brushing, flossing, and dental visits can make future treatments unnecessary.
When you finish with your procedure, make sure to ask your dentist about daily oral care tips you can use. The Dentrix Dental Care staff is ready to set you on the right path toward healthy teeth and gums. You don’t need to worry or feel embarrassed since no question is too big or small.
Contact us or come in today to get started. Visit us today!