Gum Pain

Treating Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is disease in your gums. Early stages of gum disease are called “gingivitis” (gin-g-VIE-tis) and more advanced disease is called “periodontitis” (pear-e-o-don-TIE-tis). Gum disease happens when bacteria infect the soft tissue around your teeth. If left untreated, the bacteria build up and cause a sticky substance called “plaque” to accumulate. Over time, if it is not removed, the plaque hardens into “tartar” (also known as “calculus”), which appears as rough brown, dull yellow, or even sometimes black buildup and stains on your teeth. This tartar build up can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and other serious issues with your oral health.   The most serious form of gum disease, periodontitis, needs to be diagnosed and treated by an oral healthcare professional. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you should make an appointment with your dentist: 

  • Bad breath or bad taste that doesn’t go away 
  • Swelling, redness, or bleeding in your gums 
  • Sensitive or loose teeth 
  • Gums that have receded (pulled away) from your teeth 
  • New or worsened pain with chewing 
  • Changes in your bite or the fit of dental appliances 

It is important to note, periodontitis is usually painless. So, a lack of pain does not mean you don’t have a serious issue with your gums. However, any persistent pain in your teeth or gums should be evaluated by your dentist.   There are some risk factors that can increase your risk for developing periodontitis. Things like smoking, stress, some medications, and a family history of periodontitis are among things that put you at higher risk. Even some health conditions like diabetes, problems with your immune system, and certain hormonal changes can contribute to your risk of developing periodontitis.   It is estimated nearly half of all Americans will have some level of gum disease by the time they are thirty years old. So, what can you do if you are diagnosed with periodontitis? The bad news is once you have periodontitis, it never goes away. The only “cure” would be to remove all your teeth. The good news is if you do develop periodontitis, it can be controlled with treatment.   Effective treatments for periodontitis include procedures called “tooth scaling” and “root planing”. These special deep cleaning methods can only be done in the dentist’s office or by a gum disease specialist known as a “periodontist”. Tooth scaling removes the tartar you can see on the surface of your teeth, and root planing removes the tartar on your roots, which is below the normal gum line. Having tooth scaling and root planing won’t cure periodontitis, but it may prevent the loss of gum tissue, teeth, and bone and protect your beautiful smile.   The tooth scaling and root planing procedures do not usually cause pain for the patient. To minimize any uncomfortable sensations you may have, your dentist or periodontist will give you an anesthetic medicine to numb your mouth. You’ll be awake during these procedures. Depending on the level of buildup you have, you will most likely need to come back for more than one visit to finish the tooth scaling and root planing processes. Your oral health professional can discuss your individual needs with you to estimate how many appointments will be required for your specific situation.   You may have some discomfort in your mouth after the procedure. Your gums may be temporarily swollen and sore and you may have some sensitivity on your teeth. Your healthcare provider will give you detailed instructions for recovery, including food and drinks to avoid and the use of special mouth rinses, pain relievers, or antibiotics, if needed.   The caring professionals at Today’s Dental can perform tooth scaling and root planing procedures. Please call our offices today to make an appointment for a check-up. If you are concerned about paying for your dental healthcare, Today’s Dental can point you to resources that may make treatment more affordable.

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