Healthy gums are absolutely necessary in order to have healthy and strong teeth.
Gum disease starts as gingivitis. It’s the most common oral health problem around, and nearly everyone gets it at one time or another. Gingivitis can run in your family, making you more prone to it. It can also sometimes be a side effect of certain medications, or can be more likely to occur when you are sick.
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria. Cleaning your mouth correctly and thoroughly when you brush and floss is the best way you can reduce the chances of it occurring. Improper brushing or failure to floss every time you brush can allow food particles to stay between your teeth. Eventually the sugars feed bacteria, which spread and start to cause inflammation. If the situation is allowed to get worse, you may notice your gums getting red or swollen, or you may see blood when you brush your teeth.
Eventually, untreated gingivitis progresses until it reaches below your gumline. This is when we call it periodontitis. This condition threatens your teeth by causing them to separate from the gums, and eventually, they can fall out or need extraction. The good news is that gingivitis is easy to stop before it gets worse. But you might not know you have it in its earliest stages.
“I’m so glad I saw Dr. Whitman. I had no idea I had gum disease. Fortunately, her recommendations for treatment were simple and she was able to reverse my gum disease before it got worse. I’d highly recommend her!”
— Andy, Woodburn, VA
Andy wasn’t having symptoms when he came in to see Dr. Whitman for a checkup last spring. “Honestly, I didn’t realize anything was wrong. But once Dr. Whitman pointed out the signs, they seemed obvious.”
Dr. Whitman showed Andy how his gums were puffy and red, and that they were beginning to pull back from his teeth in a classic case of gum recession as a result of gum disease.
Andy came in for treatment over the course of a few weeks to reverse his periodontal disease. “After a couple deep cleanings, which weren’t painful at all, my gums began to look more normal,” he says.
Dr. Whitman was able to carefully remove the plaque that was irritating Andy’s gums and clean under his gumline. She also recommend at-home care to encourage his gum tissue to return to normal.
“I loved working with Dr. Whitman. I always knew what was going on and the treatments were never uncomfortable. I really believed she saved my smile!”
That’s why checkups every six months with Dr. Whitman at Leesburg Family & Cosmetic Dentistry are important to maintain healthy gums.
Catching gingivitis early means it can be treated with a regular dental cleaning. If gingivitis is not treated, it will continue to get worse. You may notice chronic bad breath along with other symptoms like bleeding gums or redness. When gum disease is advanced to periodontitis, the procedure necessary to correct it is called deep cleaning, or scaling and root planing. Scaling refers to the removal of plaque and tartar from the teeth and the area near the roots, below the gums. After this is completed, the area is treated with antiseptic, and then planing or smoothing of the area is done. This inhibits bacteria from returning.
Periodontitis can cause gum recession, or the separation of your gums from your teeth. A deep cleaning is often enough to solve this problem, but in some cases, surgery may be required.