Reclaiming healthy gums and a beautiful smile.
When we’re focusing on our oral health, it’s easy to forget just how important a role our gums play. If you’ve suffered from advanced periodontitis, however, you’re likely now painfully aware, perhaps for the first time, of just how important your gum health is. We know that it’s a very concerning situation to find yourself in, especially if you’ve already lost one or more of your teeth to the disease. You’re likely worried about losing more teeth and may not know what your next step needs to be or what to expect from your treatment. Thankfully, there’s hope—with prompt treatment, you can prevent further damage and restore your smile. As you start taking steps to reclaim both your gum health and your smile, here are the answers to 10 questions about periodontitis treatment and recovery.
1. Is periodontal disease the same as gum disease?
Yes, periodontal disease is just another name for gum disease. They both refer to the inflammation and infection of gum tissue caused by oral bacteria. Gum disease can seem relatively minor at first—in fact, if you don’t visit the dentist regularly, you might miss the warning signs at home until it has already become severe. When periodontal disease is left untreated, however, it worsens and can eventually lead to major health concerns including gum recession, bone loss, and tooth loss.
2. What are the different stages of gum disease?
There are two main stages of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the less severe form of gum disease. It’s characterized by gums that bleed when you floss, persistently bad breath, and gums that look inflamed or slightly darker than usual. Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that often advances from untreated gingivitis. In periodontitis, the inflamed gums begin to pull away from your teeth, forming deep pockets in your gums and allowing bacteria to slip beneath the gum line and attack the supporting structures of your teeth.
In this more severe stage of gum disease, your gums will experience the same symptoms as gingivitis as well as several new symptoms. You may notice the formation of deep pockets in your gums that collect food debris, receding gums, pus between your teeth, or changes in the way your bite fits together. Periodontitis often remains completely painless until it’s incredibly advanced, but it can cause pain as your teeth begin to loosen. Eventually, untreated periodontitis will lead to tooth loss.
3. How do you treat periodontitis?
There are several effective non-surgical and surgical treatments available for periodontitis. Dr. Tyler will recommend a treatment for you based on your individual case, including the severity of your periodontitis. Nonsurgical treatments like scaling and root planing are often done together; scaling involves removing bacteria from your teeth and beneath your gums, while root planing smooths the surfaces of your tooth roots to help prevent future buildups of bacteria. If you have advanced periodontitis, flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery may be the best treatment for you. During this surgery, Dr. Tyler will make incisions in your gums to clean the roots of your teeth more directly and thoroughly. Whether you receive nonsurgical or surgical treatment, Dr. Tyler may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection and ensure that all of the harmful bacteria beneath your gum line have been eliminated.
4. Can you reverse periodontal disease?
The damage done by gingivitis can often be reversed by ridding your gums of the infection. Periodontitis is more advanced, however, and often does damage to your teeth and gums that’s impossible to reverse without extensive dental treatments. Thankfully, there are restorative dentistry procedures that can help repair a lot of this damage, such as pocket reduction surgery, gum grafts to treat gum recession, and bone grafts to treat bone loss in your jaw. If you’ve experienced tooth loss, dental implants can encourage bone growth and prevent your remaining teeth from shifting into the gap in your smile while restoring the function and appearance of lost teeth.
5. Why is it so important to protect and heal gum tissue?
Your gums play a vital role in your mouth because they work as a seal for the roots and supporting structures of your teeth, protecting them against bacteria and decay. Put simply, you need healthy gums to have healthy teeth. Thankfully, once Dr. Tyler has treated your periodontitis, it’s very easy to prevent it in the future. All you need to do is commit to a great oral hygiene routine. This means you should brush your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day, floss and use mouthwash at least once a day, and schedule a regular dental checkup with Dr. Tyler every six months. If you want a little extra help to prevent gum disease, you can also choose a mouthwash that’s designed to help prevent it. In most cases, forming these simple daily habits is all it takes to prevent gum disease!
6. Once periodontitis is in check, what can be done about tooth loss?
If you’ve lost one or more teeth to periodontitis, you don’t have to live with the gap in your smile forever. After your gums are healthy again, there are several ways you can restore the function, health, and appearance of your smile. Whether you’ve lost one or two teeth or you’ve suffered extensive tooth loss, Dr. Tyler offers a range of treatment options to fit your needs. Porcelain bridges and dental implants are often used to replace one or two missing teeth while dentures and implant-supported dentures are used to replace many missing teeth. We offer both single- and full-arch dental implants to ensure that you find a treatment that works for you.
Implant-supported dentures are firmly rooted in your jaw, so they prevent bone loss and offer a stability that traditional dentures lack. You can speak, laugh, and eat all of your favorite foods without worrying about whether or not your dentures are going to slip or fall out of your mouth. Hybridge full-arch dental implants are a particularly great option if you’ve suffered extensive tooth loss, as they’re effective and kind to your budget. In large part, this is because they use as few implants as possible—between five and six—to support your dentures. Only dental specialists who have received advanced training to place Hybridge full-arch implants can offer this treatment, so Dr. Tyler is uniquely qualified to give you the best treatment available.
7. Are dental implants a better option for overall health?
Yes, dental implants are the best tooth replacement option for your oral and overall health. It’s certainly true that they offer more stability than other treatment options and feel like having your natural tooth back, but it’s what they do below the surface of your gums that make them the healthiest option. Dental implants stimulate the bone in your jaw the way a natural tooth root does, allowing them to protect against bone loss. In fact, they can actually reduce minor bone loss in your jaw because the titanium metal encourages the bone to grow around it, securing it more firmly in place. They’re also incredibly easy to care for because they require the same oral hygiene as your natural teeth, making it easier to prevent future issues with periodontitis or tooth decay in your remaining teeth.
8. Am I a good candidate for dental implants?
Most people are great candidates for dental implants, but you do need to ensure that your gums are healthy and completely free of periodontal disease before you undergo the procedure. Dental implants need to be anchored directly into your jaw bone, so you need to have a healthy bone density. If you’ve already suffered extensive bone loss in your jaw from periodontitis or long-missing teeth, you may need bone grafts before you can undergo the procedure or you may not be a good fit for it.
Additionally, because it’s considered a surgical procedure, you do need to be in good overall health. If you have pre-existing conditions that make it harder for you to heal or that increase your risk of infection, dental implants might not be the right solution for you. It’s best to consult your doctor about the possibility of getting dental implants first so that you know you’re making the wisest choice for your oral and overall health.
9. How much is a tooth implant?
The exact cost of a dental implant is hard to predict because it depends upon numerous factors, including which teeth are being replaced, how many teeth you’re getting replaced, and where you live. In the short term, it’s certainly more expensive to get implants than it is to get a bridge or traditional dentures, but the value you get from dental implants simply can’t be matched. Only dental implants can protect your jaw from bone loss and mimic the stability of your natural teeth, providing you with a level of comfort and security that allows you to socialize, eat, and have fun without worrying about them. Plus, while other tooth replacement options wear out and need to be replaced over time—meaning additional procedures and costs over the years—dental implants will continue providing these benefits for your entire lifetime if they’re given proper care. You’ll still need to eventually replace the restoration that’s on top of your implant, but this is a much faster, easier process than replacing an entire bridge.
10. Can I still get treatment if I don’t have dental insurance?
We don’t want anyone to go without dental care because they don’t have dental insurance and can’t afford it. That’s why Duvall Dental Center offers in-house dental health plans that allow you to get the care you need—right when you need it. We have a standard adult membership plan and a periodontal therapy plan, which can be useful if you have a history of suffering from periodontitis.
When you’ve lost teeth to periodontitis, it’s easy to let the gaps in your smile bring you down. Thankfully, once Dr. Tyler has helped you reclaim your gum health, it’s easy to prevent periodontitis from coming back while restoring your smile’s function and appearance. If you’d like to learn more about this process, feel free to schedule a consultation with Dr. Tyler at any time.