Gum Disease Treatment Irvine, CA

Dr. Ursula Levine, DDS | Levine Dentistry, Inc.

Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)

Westpark Dentist, Irvine, CA

Gum disease, known to dentists as periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in the U.S. Official estimates indicate that 30 to 50% of the adult population has gum disease.

Besides its severe effects on oral health, research has found a link between gum disease and systemic health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. This is why early detection and treatment of gum disease are so important.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is caused by the buildup of bacteria. A film of bacteria, called plaque, grows on the teeth. This happens daily, but good oral hygiene is able to remove the majority of this bacterial growth in healthy people. When it is not effectively removed, the presence of the bacteria causes inflammation in the tissues of the gums.

Inflammation damages the tissues of the mouth. The connection between the gums and the teeth breaks down, and the gums begin to pull away from the teeth. Often, this causes visibly receding gums. As the gums recede, pockets form between the gums and the teeth where even more bacteria can grow, worsening the problem. Because of the depth of these pockets, brushing and flossing are unable to remove the bacteria from them, and rapid disease progression may begin.

Eventually, the process of chronic inflammation damages the bone of the jaw itself. As jaw bone tissue is lost, it leaves the teeth with less support. In addition, the ligaments that hold the teeth in the jaw become damaged. At this point, the teeth become loose. Without intervention, this can lead to tooth loss.

It is unclear exactly how gum disease can cause systemic health problems, such as heart disease. The chemicals released by the process of inflammation may cause damage in other parts of the body. The bacteria infecting the gums may release toxins that can be damaging, or may even gain direct access to the bloodstream through the gums, causing infections in other organs.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

The symptoms of gum disease include the following:

  • red or swollen gum tissue
  • tender gums
  • gums that bleed easily, such as when brushing or flossing
  • chronic bad breath
  • receding gums  
  • spaces between the gums and teeth
  • loose teeth

If you have any of these symptoms, it is strongly recommended that you see your dentist as early as possible. Early treatment can avoid permanent damage to the bone and soft tissues of your mouth.

How is gum disease treated?

Most of the time, treatment starts with a professional deep cleaning, known as scaling and root planing or periodontal therapy. This process involves removing bacterial buildup from below the gum line, including on the root of the tooth. There is no way to remove this material with normal brushing and flossing, no matter how thorough it may be, because the bacteria are too far below the gumline. Professional intervention is needed.

Dr. Levine may also prescribe a locally delivered antibiotic medication. This is a liquid solution that will be applied to affected areas daily for a period of a few weeks after your scaling and root planing procedure.

In the most advanced cases of gum disease, laser therapy or surgical treatment may be needed. This may be performed to remove tartar deposits and to reduce the gum pockets. If a significant amount of tissue has been lost, a gum or bone graft may be useful to help the area regenerate and heal.

Gum disease treatment in Irvine, CA

If you have noticed symptoms that may indicate gum disease, it is best to visit your dentist as soon as possible to prevent serious damage. The only way to know for sure whether or not you have gum disease is to visit a qualified dentist for a professional examination. For more information about gum disease and how it is treated, please contact the Irvine dental practice of Dr. Ursula Levine.