Gum Disease Prevention & Treatment

Did you know the leading cause of adult tooth loss is gum disease? Or that almost half of US adults over 30 have some form of it? 

The positive news is that gum disease is highly preventable. That's why dental hygiene and prevention are the cornerstones on which we base our practice philosophy. You can have sparkly white teeth, but if your gums aren't healthy, neither is your smile. 

What Are the Stages of Gum Disease?

Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and results from excess plaque buildup on teeth. This results in gum inflammation, and typical symptoms are red or inflamed gums and gums that easily bleed when you brush and floss.

Untreated gingivitis can lead to periodontitis, the advanced stage of gum disease. In severe cases, symptoms include receding gums, loose teeth, and tooth loss.

In its early stages, gingivitis is treatable. With periodontitis, we can't reverse bone and connective tissue damage, but frequent cleanings and improved oral hygiene practices can slow its progression. 

The Health Risks of Untreated Gum Disease

Over the years, research has found that those with chronic gum inflammation are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, pregnancy complications, and dementia. 

This connection also works both ways; diabetes research has found that successful treatment of periodontitis (advanced gum disease) reduces the severity of diabetes and vice versa.

Periodontal Therapies We Offer 

Preventive Dental Cleanings (Prophylaxis) 

For patients with healthy gums, we schedule preventive or "prophy" cleanings every six months to eliminate plaque and tartar buildup that you can't remove with brushing and flossing alone.

Deep Cleanings or Scaling and Root Planing

We recommend a deep cleaning, called scaling and root planing (SRP), for patients with advanced gum disease or periodontitis. Scaling removes plaque and tartar from tooth surfaces and gum pockets; planing smooths tooth roots and provides a clean surface where gums can reattach more easily. 

Our hygienists perform SRP in one or two appointments for patient comfort. They can clean deeper pockets and provide dental anesthetic, making the procedure as comfortable as possible. 

Soft Tissue Gum Grafting

Some patients are born with genetically thin gum tissue that's prone to recession and loss over time. Others develop recession due to vigorous tooth brushing habits.

Regardless of the cause, many patients are faced with the need for gum tissue grafting to prevent gingival inflammation and, ultimately, tooth loss. This procedure is completed by taking tissue from one area of the mouth and transplanting it to another area of the mouth to re-create healthy, long-lasting gum tissue.

Crown Lengthening

Crown lengthening removes excess gum tissue to expose more of a tooth's surface. We commonly use crown lengthening to prepare for dental crown placement or for aesthetics to treat a "gummy" smile. 

Steps to Take to Prevent Gum Disease

The following steps can significantly reduce the risk of developing gum disease.

  • Brush twice a day and floss once at bedtime. Be sure to thoroughly clean around dental work using oral hygiene products recommended by your hygienist.
  • Don't smoke. Smoking significantly increases your risk for advanced gum disease called periodontitis. If you smoke more than half a pack a day, you are six times as likely to develop gum disease. 
  • Eat healthy foods that help suppress inflammation, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. 
  • Stay current with six-month checkups and preventive cleanings with our hygienist so we can treat gum disease promptly if necessary. 
  • See us at the first sign of gum disease. The most noticeable symptoms are bleeding or swollen gums, spaces that open between your teeth and gums, bad breath, and pockets of pus.

Schedule a Teeth Cleaning in Coeur d'Alene or Ponderay, ID

Please call North Idaho Dental Group to schedule an appointment if you are due for your next teeth cleaning. We proudly serve Coeur d'Alene and Ponderay, including Sandpoint, ID, and surrounding communities.