Nashville Gum Disease and Systemic Links: Get Help Avoiding or Treating it
Your mouth’s health is connected to the health of your whole body. During your visit with Nashville Smile Team, our trained and skilled staff will evaluate the health of your gums and teeth. Some misconceptions are common about cavities and gum disease. Many times people will think that if a cavity doesn’t hurt is should be fine, or that bleeding when brushing or flossing is normal. The truth is that cavities, when small, often do not hurt, but when they have invaded deeper into the tooth and are irritating the nerve is when they can cause pain, discomfort, or a toothache. At this state the damage to the nerve is usually irreversible and a root canal is needed. Don’t wait until it hurts!
Gingivitis / Bleeding Gums
Bleeding of any sort is your body’s way of sending out a distress call. If you had a cut on your hand that bled every time you washed your hands wouldn’t that concern you? Your gums are no different. When your gums bleed it is a sign of inflammation. Healthy gums do not bleed when brushing or flossing.
Why do my gums bleed?
Bleeding gums are typically caused by gingivitis. Brushing alone cannot reverse gingivitis. Flossing is essential since toothbrush bristles cannot reach in between teeth to clean all of the tooth surfaces. Proper brushing and flossing can remove plaque and reverse bleeding gums but cannot remove tartar. When tartar, also known as calculus, has formed on your teeth only a dentist or dental hygienist using specialized instruments can remove it. Gingivitis can lead to gum disease and gum disease has some serious ramifications unless it is treated. Toothpaste and mouth wash commercials love to talk about gingivitis, and how their products can be helpful when used in the proper way and frequency. No product is a substitute for good daily brushing and flossing. Gingivitis begins when plaque and its toxin by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed. At this stage only the gums are inflamed and regular brushing, flossing, and cleanings can reverse the inflammation with no permanent damage to the supporting bone. Treatment for bleeding gums may include a medicated mouth rinse available from your Nashville dentist as well as additional cleaning visits until resolved. You will also be given instructions on improving your daily oral hygiene habits and having regular dental cleanings.
Those same commercials do not mention the more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, because they are not a standalone treatment for gum disease. Regular cleanings involve the crevice between the tooth and gums. When gum disease is present those crevices become deeper and filled with food particles, plaque, and tartar and it becomes a bacterial breeding ground. First we recommend a deep periodontal cleaning. This may also be called scaling and root planing or periodontal therapy. While the area is numb we removed all the tartar and toxins from below the gum line and flush the crevice with medicated rinses. The number of teeth and their locations that are affected by gum disease will determine how many appointments are needed to complete your treatment. The average is two sessions, treating one side at a time. The goal of this treatment is remove the source of the infection and allow the gum tissue to heal back to normal size. This also means the crevice should shrink as well. This may result in the tooth looking longer as the gums are now snugger and firmer against the underlying bone. In the case of severe gum disease, surgery may be needed to reduce pocket depths, making teeth easier to clean.
Gum Disease and Systemic Links
Gum disease doesn’t just cause bleeding gums and gum receding. It can cause tooth loss and is being increasingly connected to systemic diseases. Because oral bacteria from gum disease continually enters the body through the blood, through the digestive system, and into the lungs, a number of connected problems and risk factors come into play.