My Blog

Posts for tag: gum disease

TreatingGumDiseaseisGoodforYourWholeBodyNotJustYourMouth

Periodontal (gum) disease can do unpleasant things to your mouth, including losing teeth. Its effects, though, may not be isolated to the oral cavity: Gum disease could make other diseases in the body worse.

Gum disease is a bacterial infection most often caused by dental plaque, a thin bacterial film that builds up on teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene. At the outset it may infect your gums causing them to swell, redden or bleed. Eventually, though, the infection can advance deeper toward the tooth roots and bone.

There are various methods to treat gum disease depending on the extensiveness of the infection. But these methods all share the same objective—to remove all uncovered plaque and tartar (hardened plaque). Plaque fuels the infection, so removing it starves out the disease and helps the body to heal.

The damage gum disease can do to the teeth and the surrounding gums is reason enough to seek treatment. But treating it can also benefit your overall health. That's because the weakened gum tissues often serve as an open portal for bacteria and other toxins to enter the bloodstream. From there they can travel to other parts of the body and cause disease.

Gum disease also shares another feature with some systemic conditions: inflammation. This is the body's response to disease or trauma that isolates damaged tissues from healthy ones. But with gum disease, this inflammation can become chronic and ironically do more harm than good.

A gum infection may also increase the body's overall inflammatory response, in turn aggravating other diseases like diabetes, heart disease or arthritis. Treating gum disease lowers inflammation, which in turn could ease inflammation in other conditions. Likewise, reducing your body's overall inflammatory response by properly managing these other conditions might make you less susceptible to gum disease.

It's important then to prevent and treat gum disease as if your overall health depended on it—because it does. You can prevent it by brushing and flossing daily and undergoing regular dental cleanings to remove plaque. And see your dentist promptly at the first signs of gum problems. Likewise, follow a physician-supervised program to manage any inflammatory conditions.

If you would like more information on preventing or treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Good Oral Health Leads to Better Health Overall.”

By PETRA I MAYER DDS
December 31, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Periodontal disease, likewise commonly referred to as gum disease, is a persistent infection that could cause a variety of health issues such as mild inflammation to very serious gum damage, and worse, tooth loss, if not treated properly. Additionally, gum disease is linked to a raised risk of getting a stroke or a heart attack as well as negatively impact your overall health.

This is why early diagnosis and treatment for gum disease from Dr. Petra Mayer here at Petra I. Mayer, DDS in Albuquerque, NM, is very important so you can try to reverse its ill effects as promptly as possible.

Gum Disease Warning Signs

The space between your teeth and gum line is where you’ll see gum disease develop. It results in tissue damage and inflammation that could result in your gums receding over time. The severity of its damage can be gauged by how deep the pockets of excess space that develop as the gums recede. In this light, if you notice these warning signs, seek help from your dentist:

  • A persistent sour taste and/or foul breath
  • Dentures that don’t seem to fit like they used to
  • Bleeding gums
  • A difference in bite and how the teeth fit together
  • Gum tissue that seems to pull away from the teeth
  • Pain whenever you chew
  • Increasing gaps between teeth or loose teeth
  • Tender and swollen gums
  • Unusually sensitive gums and teeth

Your Options for Treating Gum Disease

Treatment options for gum disease could be treated in various ways, based on whether you’re suffering from mild gum disease or advanced gum disease. Either way, the main objective is to try and manage the infection that results in severe gum damage. Your dentist in Albuquerque, NM, may recommend these gum disease treatments depending on your condition’s exact circumstances:

  • Routine deep cleanings and oral health examinations from your dentist.
  • Oral medicines or those that can be injected directly into the damaged gum tissue pockets.
  • Surgical intervention. For instance, flap surgery, which entails pulling or opening up the infected tissue to get rid of the tartar and closing it to ensure an accurate fit around your teeth. Your dentist can likewise suggest a tissue graft for replacing extremely damaged gum or bone.

Although knowing that you can reverse the ill effects of gum disease with the right treatment options, you also need to keep in mind that gum disease is very preventable. You just have to make certain that your oral hygiene routine is working for you and that you see your dentist for regular cleanings and inspections.

Concerned About Gum Disease? Contact Us

Schedule a consultation here at Petra I. Mayer, DDS in Albuquerque, NM, with Dr. Petra Mayer, by calling (505) 881-2400.

By PETRA I MAYER DDS
November 06, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Gum disease occurs when gum tissue becomes infected. Symptoms include red or swollen gums that bleed easily when brushing. Left untreated, the infection that causes gum disease can spread to the bone tissue that supports the teeth. As the infection breaks down bone tissue, tooth loss can eventually occur. Dr. Petra Mayer, the experienced periodontist at our practice in Albuquerque, NM, can treat gum disease, restore gum health, and help prevent tooth loss.

Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease can develop when plaque and tartar are not removed from the teeth. Both plaque and tartar contain bacteria that can infect the gums. When plaque is left on the teeth it eventually hardens into tartar, which bonds to tooth enamel and can only be completely removed through a professional dental cleaning.

The gums are especially at risk of becoming infected when plaque and tartar have formed just below the gum line where the teeth are harder to clean. If not cleared away, the bacteria in the plaque and tartar can eventually spread to the gums. Once infected, several symptoms can develop. See that skilled periodontist at our office in Albuquerque, NM, for treatment if you develop any of the following signs of gum disease:

  • Receding gums
  • Swollen, red, or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily when brushing
  • An abscess in the gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Sensitive gums
  • Loose teeth

Tooth Loss

One of the possible side effects of gum disease is tooth loss. Left untreated, the bacteria that initially infected the gums can spread to the bone that supports the teeth. As infected bone tissue deteriorates, it can no longer hold the teeth firmly in place. The teeth begin to loosen and, eventually, tooth loss can occur. Seeking treatment when you notice the warning signs of gum disease, such as swollen or receding gums, can stop the infection from spreading and help prevent tooth loss.

Once teeth are lost, a number of additional side effects can result. The teeth serve many functions beyond biting and chewing food. They also provide support for muscles in the face and help guide the tongue when speaking. Without enough teeth to support facial muscles, the cheeks can begin to droop and sag. Speech can also be affected. Without teeth to guide the tongue, it can slip into the gaps where teeth are gone and change the way you sound when speaking.

Another side effect of tooth loss is excess wear and tear on the remaining teeth, which must compensate for the missing ones. When biting and chewing functions are not distributed across a full set of teeth, the existing teeth endure more strain and can be worn down more quickly.

When gum disease is not treated promptly, it can lead to additional oral health problems, including tooth loss. Dr. Mayer can develop a plan for treating gum disease and restoring gum health. To schedule an appointment with our exceptional periodontist, call the office in Albuquerque, NM, at (505) 881-2400.

PeriodontalSurgerymaybeNeededtoHaltGumDiseaseandEncourageHealing

There’s only one way to effectively halt the progressive damage of periodontal (gum) disease — completely remove the bacterial plaque and hardened deposits (calculus) from above and below the gum line that are causing the infection. Although we can accomplish this in most cases with hand instruments called scalers, ultra-sonic equipment or both, some cases may require periodontal surgery to access and clean deeper “pockets” of infection.

As this damaging disease progresses, the supporting bone dissolves and the gum tissues will begin to detach from a tooth, leaving an open space known as a “periodontal pocket.” Besides plaque and calculus pus may also form as a result of the infection. All of this material must be removed from the pocket before healing and, hopefully, tissue reattachment can begin.

Shallow pockets near the gum line are usually accessed and cleaned with hand instruments. But deeper pockets (5 millimeters or greater in depth) may require a surgical procedure to completely clean the area also allowing for regenerative procedures to be done to regain attachment. This will reduce the depth of the periodontal pockets that will make them more accessible for future cleanings and maintenance. Flap surgery is a common type of such a procedure: a small opening (similar to the flap of a letter envelope) is surgically created in the gum tissue to expose the area of infection around the tooth root and bone.

There are also other types of periodontal surgery for repairing and stimulating regeneration of damaged gum tissues. Using grafts or other enhancements, these plastic surgical techniques are especially useful where gum tissues have receded above the natural gum line, leaving more of the underlying tooth below the enamel exposed to disease. These procedures have become more effective in recent years with the development of specialized technologies called “barrier membranes” and biologic growth factors. These materials have allowed bone grafts to be more successful as this technology is engineered for targeted tissue growth and repair, and then dissolve at an appropriate point in the regeneration process.

Periodontal surgery isn’t appropriate for every situation. Still, these procedures do play an important role for many patients to put a halt to the damage caused by gum disease.

If you would like more information on surgical procedures for gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Periodontal Surgery: Where Art Meets Science.”

By Petra I Mayer DDS
May 02, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  
WithoutPromptInterventionGumDiseaseCouldDamageToothRoots

Periodontal (gum) disease often involves more than gum inflammation. The real danger is what this bacterial infection may be doing to tissues beneath the gum line—including tooth roots and supporting bone.

Gum disease can do extensive damage to the forked areas where the roots separate from the main tooth body. If one of these areas, known as a furcation, becomes infected, the associated bone may begin to diminish. And you may not even know it's happening.

Fortunately, we may be able to detect a furcation involvement using x-rays and tactile (touch) probing. The findings from our examination will not only verify a furcation involvement exists, but also how extensive it is according to a formal classification system that dentists use for planning further treatment.

A Class I involvement under this system signifies the beginning of bone loss, usually a slight groove in the bone. Class II signifies two or more millimeters of bone loss. Class III, also called a “through and through,” represents bone loss that extends from one side of the root to the other.

The class of involvement will guide how we treat it. Obviously, the lower the class, the less extensive that treatment will be. That's why regular dental checkups or appointments at the first sign of gum problems are a must.

The first-line treatment for furcation involvements is much the same as for gum disease in general: We manually remove bacterial plaque, the main source of infection, from the root surfaces using hand instruments and ultrasonic equipment. This is often followed by localized antibiotics to further disinfect the area and stymie the further growth of the furcation involvement.

We also want to foster the regrowth of lost tissue, if at all possible. Classes II and III involvements may present a challenge in this regard, ultimately requiring grafting surgery to stimulate tissue regeneration.

The best approach by far is to prevent gum disease, the ultimate cause for a furcation involvement. You can reduce your chances of gum disease by brushing and flossing daily to remove disease-causing plaque. Regular dental cleanings and checkups, at least every six months, help round out this prevention strategy.

A furcation involvement could ultimately endanger a tooth's survival. We can stop that from happening—but we'll have to act promptly to achieve the best results.

If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What are Furcations?