Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. Gum health has a great deal to do with the health and appearance of your teeth. 

Your gum has a very shallow v-shaped crevice called a sulcus, which lies between the tooth and gums. Periodontal disease strikes below the gum line in the sulcus. There it causes the breakdown of the supporting tissues. When damage to the tissues occur, the sulcus develops into a pocket of infection. Generally, the more severe the gum disease, the greater the depth of the pocket.

 
New research is showing the connection between gum disease and other, more serious diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease. In fact, gum disease has a connection to heart disease. Inflamed gums may cause swelling arteries. The bacteria from the periodontal disease can enter the blood stream and contribute to blood clots.
 
Research has shown that people with diabetes are more at risk of suffering periodontal disease. Severe gum disease can affect blood sugar levels that can cause diabetic complications.
 

There are two major stages of severity

  • Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums.
  • Periodontitis is a more serious and further advanced case of gingivitis where bone loss is present.

The following risk factors increase your chances of developing periodontal disease.

  • Tobacco smoking or chewing
  • Systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease
  • Steroids, some anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
  • Bridges that no longer fit
  • Crooked teeth
  • Defective fillings
  • Pregnancy

The following gum disease warning signs

  • Gums that bleed
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Any changes in your bite
  • Any changes in the fit of your partial dentures

Gum Disease Treatment

Treatment methods depend on the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. The main goal is to control the infection, but the success of the treatment plan depends on:
  • Severity of the disease
  • Ability to maintain oral hygiene at home
  • Reducing your risk factors

Once your dental evaluation is complete, Dr. Kwan and Dr. Hsu will discuss a plan of attack.

  • Deep cleaning to remove plaque through a method called scaling and root planing. Scaling removes the tartar from above and below the gum line. Planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth where bacteria gather.
  • Use of medications such as antibiotics and enzyme suppressants
  • Soft-Tissue Laser Dentistry might be necessary if the inflammation and deep pockets remain after initial treatments.
  • Flap Surgery removes tartar deposits in the deep pockets to make it easier to keep the area clean.
  • Bone & Tissue Grafts may be necessary to encourage new growth of bone or gum tissue.

Laser Gum Periodontal Therapy

The use of laser dentistry can effectively disinfect the inside of the periodontal pockets after a thorough root planing procedure has been performed. The laser generates a beam of concentrated energy that disinfects gum tissue with great precision. It allows the area to remain cleaner longer, which ultimately promotes healing of the tissue as compared to conventional methods.

Changing your gum line can have a tremendous impact on your smile. Unlike conventional surgery, laser dentistry procedures heal fast. This treatment involves re-contouring and shaping the gum tissue that surrounds one or more teeth. Also, in some cases, the gum line is uneven which can make the teeth appear irregular. Our laser dentists can re-contour the gum tissue to create a more even and balanced smile.

Changing a ‘Gummy Smile”

A beautiful smile shows most of the 8-10 upper teeth with almost no gum above the front two teeth. Certain pathologic and/or physiologic conditions result in too much exposure of the gum above the upper front teeth. Some of these factors are

  • Inadequate gum recession or altered passive eruption: As the teeth grow out of the gums, the gums recede upwards most of the time. In some cases, the gums remain and cover part of the bite, making the teeth look short.
  • Mouth breathing dries out the gum tissue, leaving it susceptible to disease and over growth.
  • Medications such as Dilantin and Cyclosporine can lead to gum overgrowth.
  • High lip lines revealing too much gum line
  • Attrition, where teeth have been severely worn down by teeth grinding

Large gums or short teeth can give your mouth an unbalanced, “gummy” look. Our gum dentists can remove excess gum tissue to give your mouth a new look. Some of the ways they will accomplish this is by performing a:

  • Gingivectomy/Gingivoplasty where the gum tissue is surgically excised. The patient may need to wear a periodontal dressing to protect the teeth and gums while they heal.
  • Flap surgery for short or worn down teeth, or irregular bone contours where some of the underlying bone is removed.
  • Crown lengthening where the gums are shifted into a position, which reveals more teeth and less gum. This may also be known as a gum lift or gum re-contouring, and may involve cutting out excessive gum tissue around the teeth to achieve the necessary results.
  • Laser gum surgery, where gum tissue is removed as in a gingivectomy, but with the use of a laser.