What to Do If You Think You Have Gum Disease


During the early stages, signs of gum disease can often slip through the cracks. Occasional bleeding gums may not seem like a big deal, but they are actually an indicator of poor periodontal health. The good news is that mild forms of gum disease, such as gingivitis, are reversible and can be combated at home with good dental hygiene practice. Our LA periodontics expert is dedicated to helping patients reverse the signs of gum disease and maintain strong, healthy teeth.

If you experienced bleeding or inflamed gums, have bad breath, or notice pockets forming between your teeth and gums, it is possible you have gum disease. The danger with gingivitis is that the plaque build-up can turn into tartar if ignored. Your dentist is the only person who can remove tartar from your gum line, as it is a hardened substance.

Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to improve your oral health at home. Some methods include being more thorough with your daily brushing and flossing routine and making sure to attend regularly scheduled teeth cleanings. If you notice any residue on your gums, it is important to contact a dental professional right away. Our dentist can answer any questions or concerns you have about gum disease and help you protect your smile.


What is the Purpose of Scaling and Root Planing?

Woman at the dentistryWhen gum disease reaches a chronic stage, it can alter the fit of your gums. Your teeth may look elongated, which can be alarming. But they haven’t stretched—the gums around them have loosened. This creates a baggy effect known as periodontal pockets. When you have pockets, you make it even easier for bacteria to form at the gum line and destroy your teeth.

Once you’re at this point, it’s essential that you have scaling and root planing before something more dire is needed, like pocket reduction surgery. Also known as a deep cleaning, scaling and root planing happens in two phases. First, the existing pockets are cleaned using either ultrasonics or hand instruments. Since it’s so important that all the plaque deposits at the gum line be eradicated, our dentists in Northridge often likes to combine both the ultrasonic scanner and hand instruments for a more precise touch. The two can be used to check each other’s work, so to speak. We may also use lasers.

In the second phase, the dentist smooths the tooth roots to make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere. This is also done with a combination of digital and analog equipment.
Contact our office for more information.

Steps in Gum Disease Treatment

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Gum disease treatment starts at home. If you know your symptoms—usually red or puffy gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, and/or gum recession—you can start by upping your brush/floss game. Brush at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and consider adding a quality mouthwash to the mix. Your materials should be quality as well—if it’s been more than 3 months since you replaced your toothbrush, do it soon. And make sure it’s a soft-bristled brush.

The first step in gum disease treatment at the office is usually a form of deep cleaning known as scaling and root planing. This is the only way for our expert in gum disease treatment in Van Nuys to remove all the calculus—or hardened plaque—that’s accumulated below the gums. Once this removal happens, gums usually halt their recession and periodontal pockets recede.

Once any pockets you developed are back to normal, you may be good without further treatment. If you regress or your symptoms return, the dentist may need to perform gum flap surgery to restore inflamed bone. In even more severe cases, you may require a gingivectomy or gum grafting to replace destroyed bone.

Contact our dentist in Van Nuys for more information.

Common Treatment Options for Periodontal Disease

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If you have periodontal disease, you’re in the majority. Most adults start having gum health issues after they turn 30. Gum disease is reversible in its early stages, but without care taken you can pass easily to chronic status, risking bone and tooth loss.

At-home care is your first periodontal disease treatment. Regular brushing and flossing are the bare minimum, and there are other DIY therapies. Oil pulling is a favorite among natural-health practitioners. Homemade toothpastes made from turmeric powder or baking soda are also effective in boosting gum health.

At the professional level, a deep cleaning may be necessary. The doctor will remove all tartar deposits from the teeth, and infection from between them. In a common practice called scaling and root planing, the dentist smooths both tooth surfaces and root surfaces to create bacteria-free zones.

Many patients develop periodontal pockets, which hold infection close to the bone. Gums fit looser around the teeth, allowing even more bacteria to enter. In a pocket reduction procedure, the dentist folds back the gum to thoroughly clean under it. The tissue is then resecured, but at its regular snugness.

In extreme cases, when tissue or bone has been lost, you may need grafting or regeneration. Ask our Los Angeles periodontist for more about these.

How Gum Disease Can Affect Your Heart

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women. Gum disease is also extremely common and becomes more common with age. Research has shown that heart disease and gum disease are linked.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the mouth. In the early stages, gums are often red and swollen. They bleed easily, and this allows the bacteria to pass into the bloodstream. Once the bacteria are in the bloodstream, they trigger the development of plaque in the arteries. This can ultimately lead to blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.

Protecting your smile might just also protect your heart. Keep your gums healthy by brushing and flossing every day, and visit our office on the right schedule. Use an antimicrobial mouthwash, which can kill more bacteria. Watch your gums for signs of gum disease, and let us know at the earliest sign of a problem so that we can recommend the appropriate treatment.

If you have a pre-existing heart condition, such as a history of endocarditis or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, let us know before your appointment since this can increase your risk of complications after dental procedures.

Call our expert in periodontics in Los Angeles today to learn more or to schedule your appointment with our team.

Women and Periodontal Disease

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Women’s health needs can differ from men’s, and even though women tend to pay closer attention to maintaining their health, they are more vulnerable to certain conditions. One of these is gum disease. Gum disease is an oral infection that is caused by bacteria. These bacteria first cause inflammation in the gum tissue, and as the gums become irritated, they pull away from the teeth, creating deep pockets and allowing the infection to push further into the oral cavity. Without treatment by our periodontists, gum disease can lead to tooth and bone loss.

During times of hormonal changes, your gums can become more sensitive. This allows bacteria to irritate and inflame the tissue more easily. You might notice that your gums bleed more often or that they look puffy and swollen. Some sex hormones work to inhibit bacterial growth, and when the concentration of these hormones decrease, your vulnerability to gum infection can rise. Common high-risk periods for gum disease in women include:

• Puberty
• Pregnancy
• Menstruation
• Perimenopause
• Menopause

You might not have control over the hormonal fluctuations that occur at these times, but you can take steps to protect your teeth and gums. Good brushing and flossing habits along with a balanced diet are crucial to gum health. If you are pregnant or perimenopausal, you might benefit from more frequent dental cleanings. Contact us today to learn more about gum disease in women or to schedule your next appointment.

How is Gingivitis Treated?

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Gingivitis is usually indicated by the presence of red, swollen gums that easily bleed during regular brushing or flossing. Many patients are surprised to learn that gingivitis is actually the first stage of gum disease. Luckily, gingivitis is highly treatable and reversible.

Gingivitis is caused by poor oral hygiene. In milder cases, gingivitis can effectively be treated with a professional dental cleaning and improved oral hygiene habits at home. You should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing them at least once a day in order to practice proper oral hygiene. You will also want to continue seeing the dentist every six months for a professional exam and cleaning.

If a regular cleaning and improved oral hygiene are not enough to treat the gingivitis, then a scaling and root planing procedure is usually the next step. Scaling and root planing is a non-surgical procedure, but it is a little more intensive than a routine cleaning. Scaling is when the dentist scrapes away the plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline. Root planing is when the dentist removes the hard bacteria deposits from the root of your tooth. This procedure encourages the gums to reattach to the teeth.

Hopefully that answers any questions you may have about how to treat gingivitis most effectively. If you suspect that you may be suffering from gingivitis, contact our periodontists in Los Angeles to schedule a consultation.