The most common disease in the United States is not what you may think. Heart disease, stroke, or cancer come to mind, but actually gum disease is the single most prevalent disease in America. In fact, it affects more people than heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, and cancer combined. About 80% of the population has some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis (advanced), or gingivitis (mild). Gum disease therapy in Virginia Beach is one of the most common treatments that we offer.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support teeth, and it usually starts early in life, then progresses as a person ages. It all starts when plaque hardens into tartar (also called calculus) below the gum line. This irritates vulnerable soft tissues. The combination of decaying food particles lodged between teeth with bacteria contained within plaque can lead to a rapid spread of infection. Symptoms are so mild in the early phase that many patients don’t recognize them: red, tender, swollen gums, bleeding when brushing teeth or flossing.
As the condition progresses, gums recede from teeth and pockets of bacteria form. The bacteria can destroy gum tissue and bone, causing tooth and bone loss.
Why is Gum Disease so Serious?
Recent research reveals that gum disease is linked to increased risk for major overall health problems, including but not limited to stroke, heart disease, respiratory problems, osteoporosis, diabetes complications, low birth weight, and most recently, dementia. Because of these findings, research continues. We may learn much more in the next few years.
It makes perfect sense, though, that gum disease would be linked to overall health problems. Everything that enters or is present in the mouth has access to the whole body. The mouth is like a portal to the body. Bacteria in the mouth have the potential to lead to inflammation throughout the body. That’s why regular checkups and hygiene visits are vital to not only oral health, but also overall health.
Is Gum Disease Curable?
In its early stages, gum disease is still curable. When the disease becomes advanced and begins to damage the bone and ligaments of the teeth, the damage may be irreversible even after the bacteria are brought under control. However, we can detect early warning signs of gum disease at your regular dental checkups. At this stage, prevention might be as simple as changing your brushing technique, improving your flossing routine, or changing the products you use for oral care at home.
Gum disease therapy in Virginia Beach at our office usually consists of non-surgical therapy, including:
- Scaling – to remove hardened plaque from below the gum line
- Root Planing – to reduce rough areas on teeth roots
- Antibiotic Therapy – to battle infection
- Laser Treatment – to remove bacteria and promote gum reattachment
Expect to attend more frequent hygiene visits so that a dentist or hygienist can monitor your condition and make sure that recovery is on track. Having extra cleanings can help to get the disease under control. We usually recommend every three or four months for about a year, after which you can go back to every six months if your disease is well-controlled. In severe cases, we may want to see you for a cleaning every month for a short period.
Advanced cases may require surgery, in which case we will refer you to a trusted colleague. Surgery may be used to remove diseased gum tissue, and sometimes to graft additional gum tissue into areas where it’s been lost to disease.
What is Laser Treatment for Gum Disease?
Combined with comprehensive periodontal therapy, a diode laser for soft tissue procedures can remove and reduce some periodontal infection. This type of treatment also promotes reattachment of gum tissue to teeth. Laser dentistry is precise and conservative in comparison to traditional therapies. Some patients do not even need anesthesia during laser therapy.
Dentist in Virginia Beach
If you need gum disease therapy in Virginia Beach, our office can provide you with the most modern technology in a comfortable, home-like setting. Don’t wait until your gum disease is advanced and you’re at risk for tooth loss! Book your appointment with Dr. Mary Lewis, an excellent family and cosmetic dentist in Virginia Beach, to give you the best chance of curing your gum disease and keeping your teeth. To book your appointment with Dr. Lewis, please call our office.