You may think that gum disease only affects oral health or that it’s a condition that only affects older adults. The reality is that an estimated 65 million people in the United States have some form of gum disease, and it can happen to individuals of any age who neglect good oral hygiene habits. Additionally, it can not only cause tooth loss, but research has shown that it is also linked to many diseases, including heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s and some cancers.
The best treatment for gum disease is no treatment, which would require diligent care of the teeth and gums. But if you do develop a case, there are options available to have it treated. One fairly new procedure is laser gum therapy, which is minimally invasive but can successfully treat gum disease.
Some risk factors are within your control, and some aren’t, but there are things you can do to try to prevent gum disease. These include:
There are different stages of gum disease, each with their own signs. The first stage, called gingivitis, might present symptoms such as swollen/tender tissues or bleeding after brushing or flossing. This stage can usually be reversed with regular dental care, including consistent and thorough brushing and flossing.
Later stages of gum disease have more noticeable symptoms. These include chronic bad breath, painful chewing, loose teeth, and receding gums. At this point, good brushing and flossing will not be sufficient for reversing or curing the condition, but it can be managed and stabilized.
The first stage of treatment for gum disease is called the scaling and root planing procedure, also known as a deep cleaning. Previously, this was performed with dental tools which, though effective, could cause bleeding and discomfort. Lasers allow dentists to precisely target the source of the problem so that they can destroy bacteria and remove diseased tissue without harming healthy tissue. This results in a much more predictable treatment with better results and greater patient comfort.