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Addressing Periondontal Disease

With many diseases the person has no idea anything is going on until he or she receives a surprise symptom or something shows up on an x-ray or during a routine physical exam.

Gum disease isn’t like that.

Gum disease shows you plenty of signs that your gums are irritated and headed for trouble. That’s a good thing because gum disease is reversible for most of its progression, up until it becomes full-blown periodontitis and your teeth start falling out. That’s where Dr. Hirst, Dr. Jensen, and our whole Broadway Family Dentistry team come in. When we see early signs of problems, we can show you what’s happening, help stem the tide with procedures such as gum planing and through use of our Perio Protect treatment system, and keep your gum disease from moving on to tooth loss and jawbone erosion.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is the clinical term for gum disease. It develops in stages. You don’t have healthy gums one day and the next you wake up with gum disease. Problems usually originate with poor home hygiene and a lack of regular professional cleanings and exams. If you don’t keep your teeth and gums clean plaque builds up. Plaque is the sticky film on your teeth that is continually forming. You brush and floss and remove it, and new plaque immediately begins to form. That’s why home hygiene needs to be consistent. If it isn’t, plaque builds up on your teeth and it begins to move under your gums. This causes them to become inflamed. You’ve heard the term for this on TV commercials — gingivitis. All it really means is gum irritation. Your gums are still firmly anchoring your teeth, but they are red and beginning to bleed easily.

At this point, everything is reversible — you can step up your hygiene and come see us a Broadway and all will be well. But if you let gingivitis progress, the plaque begins to become tartar and it moves under the gumline. This makes the gums begin to pull away from the teeth and form pockets. Now you’re entering full-blown gum disease, clinically known as periodontitis. As bacteria build up in these pockets, it starts to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. Pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Your teeth begin to loosen and fall out. The end of gum disease is a mouth without any teeth.

What are the signs that I have gum disease?

As mentioned above, gum disease isn’t an overnight sensation. It takes its time and gives plenty of warning signs. These are symptoms of different degrees/stages of gum disease:

  • Gums that bleed when brushing your teeth
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Deep pockets between the teeth and the gums
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Changes in bite

How do Dr. Hirst and Dr. Jensen diagnose gum disease?

When you come see us for your regular twice-yearly professional cleanings and exams, we can spot early signs of gum disease. We’ll notice the red, swollen gums. We’ll see that they bleed if nicked. Your breath is a sign.

But if patients neglect these appointments, early stage gingivitis worsens. This is what we look for when a patient comes to us with later stage gum disease:

  • Gum condition — We check the firmness of the gums. We look for swelling or bleeding. We’ll measure the pockets where the gums are pulling away from the teeth.
  • Movement — If the patient has a history of x-rays over the years, we’ll look for movement in bite alignment. Gum disease loosens the teeth.
  • Jawbone mass — We’ll check for jawbone deterioration.

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Can periodontal disease contribute to problems beyond the mouth?

Originally the thinking was that gum disease was just an oral health matter, but recent research continues to show links between the inflammation caused by gum disease and other quite serious health problems. This happens when bacterial clumps, known as biofilms, break from their cluster and have a “seeding” effect elsewhere in the body. Gum disease has now been linked to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s disease, colorectal cancer, and premature births or low birth weights. These studies are showing that the inflammation present in gum disease is critical in the development of other diseases.

How is gum disease treated?

The treatment path pursued by Dr. Hirst or Dr. Jensen depends on how far along your gum disease has progressed. In every case, the first step is to stop things where they are and keep the gum disease from progressing. First, the infection needs to be removed and the tooth roots prepared to begin the process of getting the gums to reattach. To aid in this phase, we’ll use our Perio Protect system, and we’ll discuss that in a bit.

Treatments can be both surgical and non-surgical. We perform most of these procedures, but for more advanced cases, we’ll to enlist the services of a periodontist.

Treatments can involve:

  • Root scaling and planing — This is basically removing plaque from below the gumline. Done under local anesthesia, we use a diode laser for this task called gum scaling. Gum planing makes the surface smooth so that the gums can reattach.

Surgical treatments:

  • Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery — In this procedure, the gums are lifted back and tartar is removed. We use our diode laser to clean periodontal pockets, vaporizing infected tissue and disinfecting the area to activate tissue regrowth. The laser energy penetrates the soft tissues while instantly sealing blood vessels and nerve endings.
  • Bone grafts — Bone grafts are used on areas of the jawbone that have deteriorated. The grafts are placed and bone mass regrows, stabilizing the teeth.
  • Soft tissue grafts — Tissue is usually taken from the roof of the mouth and stitched onto areas where the gums have receded or thinned.
  • Bone surgery — In moderate to advanced jawbone loss, surgery is done to decrease craters that have formed.

What is Perio Protect?

Perio Protect is a tool we use at Broadway Family Dentistry when treating gum disease. Perio Protect is a complement to our in-office cleanings when beginning your gum disease treatment. Perio Protect uses trays to deliver medication below the gums to help fight the infection that has invaded them.

Perio Protect uses custom-made Perio Trays. These are similar to mouthguards, but they have a special sealing system that enables the delivery of medication below the gums. You fill the tray with the Perio Protect medication and wear it for a few minutes at home every day.

Who is an ideal candidate for Perio Protect?

Perio Protect is best for patients whose gum disease hasn’t progressed to the advanced stages. If addressed earlier, we’ve found that Perio Protect may preclude the need for gum surgery. Even with more advanced cases, at Broadway we use Perio Protect as a follow-up to surgery to ensure the gum infection is fully gone and doesn’t return. Perio Protect basically extends the care you receive in our offices to your home.

How does Perio Protect work?

It’s really a simple process. When you’re in our Minot offices, we make impressions of your teeth and we send these to Perio Protect to create custom trays that fit your teeth perfectly. These trays are designed to gently deliver medication below the gumline. The trays are patented and completely non-invasive.

When your custom trays arrive at our offices, you return and we check the fit. Then we provide you with the Perio Protect medication that you fill the trays with at home. When you wear the trays Perio Protect delivers medication deep into periodontal pockets, where toothbrushes, rinses, and floss cannot reach. Perio Protect simply extends the infection fighting care you received in our offices.

What are the benefits of Perio Protect?

Curing and reversing the infection that has taken hold in your gums is crucial not just for your oral health but also for your overall health. Perio Protect…

  • Can lessen the need for gum surgery
  • Can be used after surgery to improve outcomes
  • Can help ensure bacterial infection is stopped
  • Will help to prevent infection from recurring
  • Whitens teeth as a side effect
  • Improves breath by killing bacteria
  • Is comfortable and easy to use at home
  • Is completely non-invasive
  • Is the only periodontal medicine delivery mechanism with FDA clearance

Does my dental insurance cover Perio Protect?

Dental insurance plans and their corresponding benefits vary widely. Many plans will cover Perio Protect as part of your gum disease treatment. We work with your insurance carrier to obtain as much coverage as possible.

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Contact Us To Learn More

Broadway Family Dentistry in Minot, ND proudly provides patients from Minot, Williston, Garrison, New Town, Rugby, Bismark and Devils Lake, ND, with periodontal services. Call (701) 839-1299 or fill out a Contact Form here for any questions or to schedule an appointment.