Periodontal disease is the infection of the gums, and it gradually destroys the support system for your teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Bacteria inside plaque creates toxins, which irritate the gum tissue. Irritated gums may swell and bleed. If the irritation continues for too long, the gums separate from the teeth, causing spaces to form.
Plaque can also form a hardened substance around the teeth called tartar. Tarter can form above and below the gum line. As gum disease develops, the tissue and bone that supports the teeth can weaken and become infected. This can eventually lead to tooth loss. One of the dangers of periodontal disease is that it is not always as obvious as you might think.
Typically, there is no pain associated with gum disease. And the obvious signs of redness, swelling, and bleeding are not always present. Even if you don’t notice it, damage may still be occurring. By age 45, 80% of Americans have some form of periodontal disease. After age 35 more adults lose teeth to gum disease than from cavities. In addition to causing tooth decay, studies have shown that health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and low-birth-weight babies have been related to periodontal disease.
Here are some other factors that affect the health of your gums:
- Poor nutrition and diet
- Tobacco Use (slows down gum healing)
- Diabetes (higher risk of infection)
- Grinding teeth
- Certain medications and supplements
- Oral contraceptives
The best way to prevent gum disease is following a regular regimen of brushing, flossing, and dental checkups. However, should you already suffer from periodontal disease there is a variety of procedures Dr. Schepis can perform to correct and reverse the damage to your teeth and gums.
If your teeth appear short they may actually just be covered by excessive gum tissue. Dr. Schepis can correct this by surgically removing the extra gum tissue to reveal your full, natural teeth. Many patients have experience the benefit of crown lengthening and enjoyed a full smile rather than a “gummy” smile. This procedure can also be used to expose a decayed part of a tooth so it can be repaired.
Soft Tissue Graft
This procedure is used to cover up unattractive tooth roots or to reverse gum recession if your teeth are over exposed. Dr. Schepis will take extra tissue from your palate (or a donor) and cover the exposed root of the tooth to lower the gum line. This can be done for multiple teeth or even to the entire gum line to reduce sensitivity.
When you lose a tooth it can cause the gum line and bone to recede, leaving an unsightly indentation in your gum or jaw line. We can repair the bone damage and use implants or bridges to replace the missing teeth. See our Cosmetic Dentistry and Implant pages for more information about replacing a missing tooth.
When tooth loss occurs the underlying bone may collapse or recede. We can graft new bone into the socket to give a natural look to your gum line and bone structure. This can also be helpful or necessary for some crowns, bridges, and implants. See our Bone Augmentation page fore more information.