A Closer Look at Periodontal Disease
Many people will experience some form of periodontal disease in their lifetime. Periodontal disease develops when plaque accumulates on the teeth, causing the gums to become inflamed and recede. If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to loose and weakened teeth, jawbone deterioration, and even tooth loss. Patients can decrease their risk for gum disease with good oral hygiene routines that include brushing and flossing twice a day, and visits to a reputable dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and exams.
Stages of the Condition
Gum disease can be divided into two types: gingivitis and periodontitis.
During the initial stage of gum disease, the gums often become red and swollen. At this time, plaque and bacteria are beginning to accumulate on the teeth below the gum line. Symptoms of gingivitis may be most noticeable while brushing and flossing, since these activities can make the gums more sensitive and cause them to bleed.
If gingivitis goes untreated, plaque and bacteria will continue to flourish below the gum line and periodontitis can develop. Periodontitis is characterized by deep pockets between the teeth and gums that are infected with bacteria. Eventually the infection can affect the bone, tendons, and ligaments, weakening tissue and loosening the teeth. In severe cases, the teeth can fall out or require extraction.
It is important to remain vigilant for any signs and symptoms of periodontal disease. If your dentist catches the condition early, it can be treated with less aggressive therapies. Some patients will benefit from scaling and root planing, also called a deep cleaning, while others may need more advanced therapies, such as laser treatment. A special antibiotic mouthwash is often recommended or prescribed to prevent plaque build-up. In severe cases, periodontal surgeries, such as a soft tissue graft, could be needed to fully restore your oral health.
Benefits of Laser Therapy
Depending on the specifics of your condition, Dr. Bixby may use a soft tissue laser that targets and eliminates disease-causing bacteria. Laser therapy has many advantages over traditional treatment, including:
- does not require sutures
- faster healing times
- less discomfort during and after treatment
- more effective in treating the disease
Laser therapy is best for patients with gingivitis or the earlier stages of periodontitis. Unless the disease has spread far below the gum line and is threatening your bone health, laser therapy is typically a very effective way to combat bacteria and avoid surgical periodontal procedures.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
Dr. Bixby and his team want to help you achieve a healthier smile with periodontal care and other general dentistry treatments. Reach out to our practice today and schedule your consultation to learn more.