It's a little known fact, but more people suffer from gum disease than heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's, and cancer combined. More concerning is the fact that gum disease is painless and most of those affected are unaware. At least 80% of the population has some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, periodontitis (advanced), and gingivitis (mild).
The best way to prevent gum disease is to visit Dr. Heather Fleschler and her team for your regularly scheduled dental checkup. Please call (713) 997-8999 today to schedule an appointment at our West University general dentistry office.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that support the teeth. Our mouths contain bacteria that make up plaque, a clear, sticky substance that adheres to teeth. When not removed with proper daily homecare of brushing/flossing, plaque hardens into tartar that irritates gums, making them susceptible to infection.
Once gum disease has set in, the sensitive tissue begins to break down, causing pockets around the teeth that allow plaque, tartar, and infection below the gum line to damage teeth roots and supporting bone.
However, the oral health issues associated with gum disease are not the only risks you face. Periodontal disease also increases your risk of:
- Heart disease
- Kidney disease
- Preterm birth/low birth weight
How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?
Though the early stages of gingivitis may carry no symptoms, as the disease advances you may notice red, tender, or swollen gums or bleeding when you brush your teeth. There is no cure for gum disease, but early detection can allow us to stop the disease from progressing. Prevention and maintenance can be as simple as changing how you brush, flossing more frequently, or changing the products you use for oral care at home.
If you are diagnosed with gum disease, expect to schedule more frequent hygiene visits so that Dr. Fleschler can monitor your condition and make sure recovery is on track. More advanced cases may require more invasive treatments by a periodontist, a dentist who specializes in the treatment of gums and bone.
Personalized Gum Treatment
Dr. Fleschler will recommend the ideal periodontal treatment option based on the severity of your gum disease. If you only experience gingivitis, Dr. Fleschler may be able to use more conservative periodontal treatment methods which focus on a more comprehensive oral hygiene regimen, including:
- Brushing at least twice a day, although preferably after every meal, & using a topical fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing every day to remove the plaque that builds up between your teeth or use of a Waterpik water flosser
- Daily rinsing with an alcohol free antibacterial mouthwash
- Visiting our West University dental office at least twice annually for professional teeth cleaning appointments – in some cases, Dr. Fleschler may recommend more frequent teeth cleanings
Even in advanced stages, there are non-surgical treatment options. These may include:
- Periodontal therapy – a deep cleaning method utilizing microsonic technology that removes tartar and plaque adhered to the root surface beneath the gum line
- Locally applied chemotherapeutic agents – an antibiotic treatment deposited into your infected gum pockets in order to kill all harmful bacteria
- Laser treatment – low-level laser light therapy decreases bacterial levels, reduces inflammation, removes infected tissue, increases circulation, stimulates collagen formation, and improves bone and tissue healing. Lasers heal as they work, allowing gum tissue to improve faster, helping to arrest the progression of active periodontal disease.
If you have noticed any symptoms of gum disease, please call (713) 997-8999 or contact Dr. Heather Fleschler online today to schedule a dental checkup and periodontal evaluation. We proudly serve the West University, Bellaire, Meyerland, and River Oaks areas of Houston.