Periodontal Care in Wauwatosa

What Is Periodontal Care?

Periodontal care is a term for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. To prevent gum disease, you need to prevent plaque and tartar buildup by properly brushing your teeth and flossing every day.

You also need to attend regular dental cleanings and checkups so you can catch the early warning signs of gum disease such as red, swollen, or bleeding gums. Gum disease is diagnosed by measuring the depth of your gum pockets with a dental probe.

Healthy gum pockets are less than 3mm deep and do not bleed when you brush or floss. Meanwhile, depths greater than 3mm that present with bleeding suggest gingivitis, and depths greater than 4mm are indicative of periodontitis.

Treatments for gum disease range from a deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup in the reversible stage to various oral surgeries for more advanced stages.

What Is Gum Disease?

The precursor to gum disease is gingivitis, a reversible condition that is more common than most people think. The symptoms are mild and include red, swollen, or bleeding gums. This occurs from plaque buildup in the mouth which soon hardens into tartar, a substance that causes gum inflammation and cannot be removed without professional help.

In this earliest stage, no permanent damage is done to your soft tissue or bone. However, when gingivitis is left untreated, it develops into periodontitis. This is when you begin to experience gum recession, as your teeth pull away from them and lead to the formation of gum pockets which trap bacteria and cause infection.

Is Gum Disease Reversible?

The earliest stage, gingivitis, is reversible. Most people get gingivitis at some point in their lives and may never realize it because the symptoms can easily go unnoticed and the condition is often relieved by practicing good oral hygiene and getting a normal dental cleaning.

Once you’ve reached gum pocket depths of 4mm, you’ll need a deep cleaning. Deep cleaning involves scaling (removing plaque and tartar from the gum line) and root planing (smoothing out the tooth’s root to make it easier to reattach to the gums).

While gingivitis is reversible, periodontitis is not. It leads to irreversible destruction of bone and damage to your soft tissue. There are surgical treatments for more advanced stages such as gum flap surgery to remove bacteria that is trapped deep into your gum pockets.

Other surgeries include gum grafts, soft tissue grafts, and guided tissue regeneration to rebuild destroyed bone and soft tissue.

How Do I Prevent Gum Disease?

Preventing gum disease is all about practicing proper oral hygiene and avoiding behaviors that increase your risk of developing the disease. You should brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. 

Use a soft-bristle toothbrush with a small head so you can get in hard-to-reach places to thoroughly remove food particles and plaque. Floss once a day and remember to brush your tongue. Visit the dentist every 6 months for cleanings and checkups. 

Smoking, diabetes, and consuming a lot of sugar all increase your risk of developing gum disease. Avoid smoking and all tobacco products and reduce your consumption of sugary foods. If you have diabetes, you must manage your blood sugar.

If you suspect you have gum disease or require treatment, contact us at McCue Dental Health today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shaun McCue.

Why Is At-Home Care Important?

At-home oral care is important because gum disease is completely preventable and reversible in the early stages by simply practicing good oral hygiene. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque and tartar which causes an inflammation of the gums and can collect in gum pockets, leading to an infection.  

By brushing your teeth twice a day for at least two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing once a day, you greatly reduce your risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Don’t forget to also brush your tongue which harbors a lot of bacteria. 

You should get regular dental cleanings and checkups to remove plaque buildup before it hardens into tartar. Stay hydrated, avoid frequent snacking, and limit your consumption of sugary and acidic foods.

Is Periodontal Care Covered By Insurance?

Most dental insurance plans cover preventative, restorative, and surgical treatment (such as tooth extractions) but whether or not they will cover periodontal care depends on which plan you have. 

Periodontal care is not as commonly or extensively covered as preventative or restorative dentistry. You may need to purchase separate periodontal dental insurance coverage. Contact your dental insurance to ask if they cover periodontal treatments such as deep cleanings or laser gum therapy. 

What Happens If I Don’t Treat My Gingivitis or Gum Disease?

If you choose not to treat your Gingivitis or gum disease, things will not magically get better – they will get worse. You must seek treatment for gum disease, especially in the Gingivitis stage. 

In this early stage, it is still reversible and does not cause permanent soft tissue damage or bone loss. Symptoms are mild and can be easily overlooked, which is why it’s important to be vigilant with oral hygiene and frequently attend dental visits. 

By regularly brushing, flossing, and getting routine dental cleanings, gingivitis can clear up on its own. However, when it’s left untreated, it will develop into periodontitis. This is when you run into more serious problems. 

Periodontitis causes irreversible bone loss and soft tissue damage. You will require more invasive treatments such as deep cleanings (scaling and root planing), laser therapy, or oral surgery. 

If periodontitis is left untreated, you will suffer from severe gum recession and may have tooth loss. You will then need to undergo expensive, time-consuming treatments such as gum flap surgery and gum and bone grafts. 

Simply put, prevention is better than the cure. If you get periodontitis, only treatment can manage the disease. To prevent gum recession and tooth loss, practice good oral hygiene and attend dental visits every 6 months, as recommended by the ADA.

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