Your Gums And The Role They Play In Your Smile
You likely know that your teeth are important to your daily life, but what’s important to understand is that your gums are just as vital. Your gums are the foundation of your smile and they need to be in top shape to keep your teeth strong and your mouth healthy. However, just like other parts of your smile, your gums can become vulnerable to infection, including gum disease. When your gums are at risk of or have been affected by gum disease, the Belvidere dentists at Chapko & Shah Modern dentistry offer gum disease and periodontal services to prevent and treat gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, more formally known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums and other structures in your mouth that support your teeth. Gum disease is most often caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar, substances that occur when food particles mix with the bacteria in your mouth.
Plaque and tartar stick to your teeth and gums and usually accumulate in places where it’s hard for a toothbrush and floss to reach, including beneath the gum line. The bacteria in these substances feed on the sugars in the buildup, produce acid as waste, and attack the hard and soft tissues in your smile.
Other causes of gum disease include:
- Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, and osteoporosis
- Sugar-rich diets
- Tobacco products
- Clenching and grinding your teeth (bruxism)
- Certain medications
Signs of Gum Disease
The first step in treating gum disease is to recognize the signs. You should contact Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry by dialing (815) 544-5144 if you notice any of the following signs:
- Loose or separating teeth
- Bite changes
- Partial dentures or bridges not fitting correctly
- Defective fillings
- Bad breath (persistent)
- Metal taste in your mouth
- Pus between gums/teeth
- A sore that does not improve after 2 weeks
- Tender or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Gums that recede or pull away from your teeth
Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease is best treated in the early stages because as the disease progresses, it takes more procedures and more aggressive treatments to improve your oral health. Depending on the stage of gum disease you’re experiencing, our periodontal services will vary. The stages of gum disease are as follows:
Gingivitis – Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and also the easiest to treat. Normally, the damage done by gingivitis can be treated and reversed with better oral hygiene and a few extra dental exams. However, this doesn’t mean gingivitis should be ignored, because this stage can progress to initial periodontitis if left untreated.
Initial Periodontitis – Initial periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease, where the infection begins to attack your oral structures. This stage is usually characterized by minor pain and tenderness and bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth. While the damage can’t be reversed, it should still be relatively easy for your Belvidere dentists to treat with more frequent dental exams, deep cleaning sessions, and better oral hygiene.
Moderate Periodontitis – Moderate periodontitis is very similar to initial periodontitis, except there’s more advanced damage to the ligaments and bones attaching your teeth to your gums. Additionally, the bacteria causing the infection can enter your bloodstream through your gums. This can lead to the infection reaching other parts of your body, which may explain the possible link between gum disease and heart disease.
Advanced Periodontitis – Advanced periodontitis is the most advanced stage of gum disease. You’re likely to notice severe pain and bad breath, as well as loosening teeth. At this stage, you’ll likely need multiple treatments and surgical procedures to save your smile.
Periodontal Services At Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry
Our Belvidere dentists offer various periodontal services that can be used by themselves or in combination to prevent and treat different stages of gum disease. Some of the periodontal services may offer are as follows:
Root Planing and Scaling – Root planing and scaling is a minimally invasive deep cleaning procedure. During the scaling phase, your Belvidere dentist will remove the excess plaque and tartar from beneath your gum line and around your teeth. In the root planing phase, your roots will be smoothed to help prevent bacteria from reaccumulating and to help your gums reattach to your teeth. Not only does this help prevent reinfection, it drastically improves the appearance of your smile.
Antibiotics – Antibiotics are medications that fight bacterial infections. Oral antibiotics come in the form of a pill while topical antibiotics are applied to the affected area. Antibiotics can be used in combination with other procedures to increase the effectiveness of your treatment.
Gum Grafting and Bone Grafting – Gum grafting and bone grafting are supplemental procedures that can help restore your smile after gum disease and help protect it against further damage. Bone grafting involves transplanting bone from another source into your jaw to replace missing bone mass. Gum grafting involves taking soft tissues from inside your mouth and attaching them to areas where gum tissue is lacking.
Pocket Reduction – Pocket reduction is a lot like root planing and scaling, except the process is more involved. Your Belvidere dentist will pull your gums away from the roots and bones before removing bacterial buildup and diseased gum tissue. The bones and roots will be smoothed and reshaped to help prevent bacteria from accumulating there in the future. Then, they’ll reattach the gum tissue back onto the bone with sutures in a way that reduces the depth of the pockets between your gums and your teeth.
Frequently Asked Questions
Periodontal services are necessary treatment, so it’s likely that your insurance provider will cover at least some of the cost. Our Belvidere dentists and the rest of the staff at Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry encourage you to contact your provider beforehand to confirm which costs they can cover. Rest assured that we’ll work with you to help you afford your necessary treatment, so you can start smiling healthy again as soon as possible.
While the earliest stage of gum disease can usually be treated with better oral hygiene, it’s still important to see a professional like the Belvidere dentists at Chapko & Shah Modern Dentistry. Failing to consult with a dental professional may lead to ineffective treatment, causing the gum disease to progress or come back later on. If you want to help alleviate your symptoms until you can see one of our dentists, we recommend the following:
- Brush at least twice a day for at least two minutes
- Floss at least once a day, especially before bedtime
- Rinse with mouthwash between meals
- Stay hydrated
- Reduce your sugar intake
- Stop using tobacco
- Limit or cease alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly to boost your immune system
Every case of gum disease is as unique as the person who suffers from it. Your recovery during and after periodontal treatment will depend on multiple factors, including how well you take care of your oral hygiene and follow the instructions of your Belvidere dentists. Your dentist can give you a better estimate of how long your treatment will take and how long it will take you to recover.
Periodontal disease on its own isn’t usually life-threatening. However, more advanced stages of gum disease can significantly damage your smile and make you more vulnerable to other more serious diseases. That’s why it’s important to seek professional treatment as soon as you notice possible signs of gum disease.