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The health of your gums is vital to both your oral health and your overall health, and it is important to quickly and effectively address the signs of gum disease when they appear. Whether you are still in the early stages of gingivitis or are struggling with advanced periodontal disease, our family dentistry team offers several different treatment options—including gum grafting—that can help protect your teeth, restore your gums, and safeguard your health.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease—also known as gum disease—is a serious condition characterized by an infection of the gums and soft tissues in the mouth. If left untreated, it can lead to a variety of oral and systemic health concerns, including tooth loss and increased risk for heart disease. Periodontal disease usually develops as a result of poor oral hygiene, with plaque and bacterial building up along the gum line, causing inflammation and irritation. If caught at the early stages, it can usually be treated quite effectively with a minimally-invasive technique known as scaling and root planing. However, advanced gum disease may require a more invasive procedure, such as gum grafting.

The early stages of gum disease, sometimes called gingivitis, are characterized by inflammation of the gums, which can cause discoloration, bleeding while brushing or flossing, and bad breath. It can also cause gum-line irritation, which can lead to gaps forming between the teeth and gums. These pockets then fill with plaque and bacteria. Without the intervention of a dentist, these pockets will deepen and fill with more bacteria, eventually eroding the soft tissues and even the supporting bone structures of your mouth.

In order to prevent gum disease, patients should maintain good oral hygiene at home and schedule professional dental cleaning twice a year. These steps can help prevent the buildup of plaque, reducing inflammation and helping the gums stay firmly fitted against the teeth.

“Super friendly staff! The doctors and hygienists are very knowledgeable and do all they can to ensure my mouth is clean and healthy. It’s the kind of dentist office you actually look forward to go to. Thank you Delaware Smile Center!” - Jenna W.

What Are My Gum Disease Treatment Options?

There are multiple treatment options for gum disease, and the ideal choice for you will likely depend on the severity of your condition. Your dentist will perform a thorough evaluation of your periodontium and make a treatment recommendation based on your specific needs.

Scaling & Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is the most common treatment option for gum disease. Also called a “deep cleaning,” this treatment involves the careful removal of plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gums (scaling) and the smoothing of any rough surfaces along the tooth roots to discourage further plaque buildup (root planing). As the gums pull away from the teeth as a result of inflammation, they can expose the sensitive roots of the teeth. If plaque builds up on the tooth roots, it can have negative effects on bone density and prevent the gums from reattaching to the tooth surfaces, so it is important to be thorough during this stage.

Scaling and root planing is most effective for treating patients experiencing mild-to-moderate gingivitis or gum disease. Many patients find that their gums begin reattaching to their teeth within a few months after a deep cleaning. In order to maintain the results of a scaling and root planing treatment, we strongly recommend that patients adopt a consistent oral hygiene routine and schedule their twice yearly dental appointments. Routine cleanings  and preventative care can help avert the level of plaque buildup that necessitates deep cleanings while keeping the teeth and gums healthier overall.

Gum Grafting

Gum grafting is a more advanced treatment for moderate or advanced periodontal disease. As bacteria buildup erodes the soft tissues in the mouth, the gums may begin to recede, exposing more of the tooth body, including the sensitive root structures. Not only can this cause discomfort, but it can also increase the risks of tooth loss, as there is less tissue to support the tooth. A gingival (gum) graft is designed to restore lost gum tissue and prevent tooth loss once the underlying infection has been treated using other methods.

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Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Periodontal Care

I’m concerned about my receding gums. What can you do to help me?

Receding gums are often one of the first symptoms of gum disease. Treating your periodontal (gum) disease is an important first step in stopping the progression of gum recession. For moderate to severe gum recession, we offer cosmetic root coverage through gum grafting. This procedure not only improves the appearance of your teeth, but prevents damage to the roots and relieves pain and sensitivity.