Frequently Asked Questions
- What is gum disease
Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, that is set in motion by bacterial infection in genetically susceptible individuals.
- What causes gum disease
Some of the bacteria (germs) that live in our mouths are capable of forming a sticky biofilm on our teeth called plaque. If not removed, this causes inflammation of the surface gums called gingivitis. The good news is that at this stage gum disease is 100% reversible. Removing the plaque, which is fairly easy to do with effective brushing and flossing will eliminate gingivitis. The bad news is that if not removed a large portion of the population (up to 50%) may develop deeper infection known as periodontitis (pyorrhea). In these at risk patients inflammation spreads below the gum line and the fibers that hold the gum to the teeth are dissolved, forming pockets. These pockets become in effect germ hotels where germs not capable of surviving on the surface can thrive.
- How do I know if I have gum disease
Classic symptoms at this point may be gums that bleed on brushing or they may seem tender or puffy. Sadly for many individuals surface signs may be minimal. If you know of a blood relative who has had gum disease or diabetes, you are assumed to be in that risk pool. As the disease progresses, gums often recede and teeth may become loose. Pain comes late if at all. Fortunately your dentist can easily determine if you have the problem by a simple test (probing).
- How is it treated
If the infection can be eliminated the inflammation will cease. Early disease can be reversed by aggressive cleaning. Once pockets reach a certain depth, effective treatment usually requires gum surgery to eliminate the pocket. In the past this has meant cutting away tissue and reshaping or grafting bone. LANAP is a procedure that uses a specialized laser to destroy bacteria, alter tissue and seal the pocket so healing progresses from the inside out! This patented technique (protocol) has been submitted to the FDA, and the claimed results verified. It works! For the patient it means, no cutting, no sewing, greatly reduced post-op discomfort or pain. Many teeth classified in the past as hopeless are returned to useful function. Treatment can be scheduled for one visit or half mouth sessions. Your doctor will review the pros and cons to decide which sequence is best for you.