Why Early Intervention Makes All the Difference in Gum Disease

The importance of brushing and flossing and coming to see us for regular dental checkups is something you’ve learned practically from the time you’ve had teeth. In fact for many of us, brushing our teeth all by ourselves was probably one of our first rites of passage as children.

But so much of what we know about good oral health seems to be focused on keeping our teeth clean and preventing tooth decay. Although vigilant at-home oral care and routine professional teeth cleanings are important, they’re just part of the big picture when it comes to your oral health. Having healthy gums is critical, too. 

Our dentists at Silicon Valley Dental Associates, -- Dr. Colin Au, Dr. Dianna Fung, and periodontist, Dr. Scott Dault -- want to fill in the blanks about the role that healthy gums play in your dental health. They want you to know that stopping gum disease in its tracks through early intervention can make all the difference in your health. 

Gum disease explained

If you’ve ever noticed bleeding gums when brushing or flossing your teeth, you’re experiencing one of the most common symptoms of gum disease. And you aren’t alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 65 million Americans (about half of all adults 30 and older) suffer from advanced gum disease known as periodontitis.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a progressive condition that occurs when there’s a buildup of plaque along the gum line. Plaque contains toxins and harmful bacteria. If it’s not removed by brushing and flossing, it continues to cause inflammation and degradation, damaging your gums’ ability to keep a firm grip around your teeth. 

It’s reversible in the early stages

The good news is that even if you have a mild case of gum disease called gingivitis, there are plenty of things you can do to reverse the damage and keep the condition from progressing. Keeping your regular dentist appointments is one important step. 

During a professional teeth cleaning, your hygienist removes the plaque buildup you can’t get to with regular brushing and flossing at home. Plus part of the basic dental exam is an assessment of the health of your gums. This is where we can intervene early and provide treatment to prevent your gingivitis from progressing.

Monitoring gum disease helps prevent tooth loss

Think back on your last dental exam. Remember when the dentist called out numbers ranging from one to five? Through this exam, your dentist measures the pocket between your gum and teeth. The numbers correlate to how tight of a grip your gums have on your teeth. The lower the number, the better. 

If you start to record higher numbers, you and your dentist can discuss ways to ward off gum disease to prevent permanent damage like tooth loss.

Early intervention preserves biting and chewing mechanics

The ultimate goal is to stop gum disease in the gingivitis stage before it gets to stage two, called periodontitis, or stage three, which is advanced periodontitis. During the later stages of gum disease, most damage is irreversible. Likely outcomes include tooth loss and shifting teeth, which throws off your ability to bite and chew properly.

At Silicon Valley Dental Associates, we provide a variety of gum disease treatment options, including LANAP®, which is our Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure. This treatment is ideal for moderate or severe cases of gum disease. 

LANAP enables us to remove infected tissue and hardened plaque from the roots of your teeth in a less invasive manner than traditional gum disease surgery. Think of it like a healthy gum reset without the anesthesia or extended downtime.

If you think you have gum disease and want to learn more, make an appointment for a consultation at our office in Sunnyvale, California. Book an appointment online or call our office today.

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