At Excellence in Dentistry in Fort Lauderdale, the goal of Dr. Nancy Rotroff, Dr. Gerard Wasselle and our dental team is to partner with you to keep your smile healthy and beautiful. We encourage our patients to brush twice daily, floss daily, and schedule regular teeth cleaning and dental exam. We all know harmful bacteria cause cavities, but they can also irritate and cause infection in your gums.
What is gum disease?
Gum disase, or periodontal disease, is a progressive disease which affects the supporting and surrounding tissue of the gums. The naturally-occuring bacteria in your mouth produce a sticky biofilm called plaque. When you brush, floss and use mouthwash, you wash away this plaque. When you skip brushing and in areas you miss with your toothbrush or floss, plaque can remain and harden into tartar. In addition to causing tooth decay, plaque and tartar buildup irritates your gums and causes them to become red, swollen, and possibly to bleed. This first stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Your dental hygienist in Fort Lauderdale treats this early stage of gum disease with a professional dental cleaning. At this stage, you can stop progression of gum disease with a proper home care routine of brushing twice daily and flossing daily following your professional dental cleaning.
If this early stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is not treated with professional dental cleanings and adequate home care, the disease can progress into a condition called periodontitis. This is an inflammation of the tissues that surround and support the teeth. In this stage of gum disease, the inner layer of the gum and bone pull away from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets collect plaque and food debris which can cause infection. Unlike gingivities, periodontitis causes permanent damage to the supporting tissues of the teeth. Your dental hygienist treats periodontitis with tooth scaling and root planing to clean away plaque and tartar under the gumline. Tooth scaling involves deep cleaning and smoothing of the tooth surface. Root planing then evens out the surface irregularities in roots so plaque has a tougher time being deposited near the roots of teeth. While you can not cure periodontitis, you can treat it with good oral hygiene habits and regular professional dental cleanings at your dental practice in Fort Lauderdale. Periodontal cleanings can stop further degradation of your gums and underlying, tooth-supporting bones.
In advanced stages of gum disease, your gums recede and your teeth become loose. The tissues that support and hold your teeth in place weaken and can no longer support the teeth. You will experience bone loss in the bone supporting your teeth as well. While tooth extraction is always a last resort, at this advanced stage of periodontal disease, the teeth may need to be extracted.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Gum disease is often painless and without noticeable symptoms, making it hard to know if you really have it. Symptoms may not appear until the disease is at an advanced stage. Although the symptoms of periodontal disease often are subtle, the condition is not entirely without warning signs. Certain symptoms may point to some form of the disease. The symptoms of gum disease include:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Red gums (healthy gums are pink)
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
- Loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Changes in your occlusion (the way your teeth fit together when you bite)
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
How Does My Dentist Diagnose Gum Disease?
During a dental exam, your dentist typically checks for these things:
- Gum health: Swelling, bleeding, firmness, and pocket depth (the space between the gum and tooth).
- Teeth mobility
- Proper teeth alignment
- Bone loss using x-rays
What are the dangers to my health?
In addition to tooth loss, gum disease poses a danger to your overall health. A recent article by the Mayo Clinic shows a connection between gum disease and numerous health conditions:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Pregnancy complications
Dr. Nancy Rotroff and Dr. Gerard Wasselle at Excellence in Dentistry in Fort Lauderdale want to partner with you for your best oral health. Our dentists emphasize regular dental check-ups to detect and treat any dental problems early while they are small. For our patients with gum disease, more frequent teeth cleaning sessions are recommended to help maintain your health. Gum disease affects nearly 50 percent of Americans, many of whom don’t know they have it, because in the early stages, it’s painless. If it has been more than a year since your last dental check-up, call Excellence in Dentistry at 954-928-1666 to schedule your appointment today. Your health is our priority.