There are three things everyone should know about gum disease: First, about half of all American adults have some form of gum disease. Second, gum disease is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. And third — and best of all — it’s treatable and preventable. The key is to seek treatment as early as possible.
A to Z Dental Studio is a leading provider of gum disease treatment for patients in Fairfax, Virginia, and for good reason: Hiba Zakhour, DDS, tailors each treatment to the needs and symptoms of every individual patient. If you have gum disease — or if you want to learn how to avoid it — here’s what she wants you to know.
Gum disease 101
Gum disease starts when harmful, disease-causing bacteria invade the spaces between your gums and your tooth surfaces. These bacteria tend to live in sticky plaque deposits and hardened tartar that forms right along your gum line.
As these bacteria multiply, they release toxins that irritate your gum tissue. In response, your gums pull away from the tooth surface, making it easier for the bacteria to move downward into the deeper gum tissue. That cycle continues, and eventually, the bacteria migrate all the way to the tooth root, where bacterial colonization can lead to tooth loss and bone infections.
Gum disease occurs in stages, from mild gingivitis to advanced periodontitis, the stage where tooth loss can occur. The key to preventing deep infection is to treat gum disease as early as possible.
Root scaling and planing: For better gum health
While routine professional cleanings and good home care are essential for treating and even preventing gum disease, when deeper infection is already occurring, Dr. Zakhour frequently recommends root planing and scaling. These advanced cleaning techniques are designed to remove bacteria below the gums, halting infection in its tracks.
Scaling uses special tools to access the area and remove deposits of tartar, plaque, and bacteria. Root planing uses other tools to gently smooth the surface of the tooth root, making it much harder for bacteria to cling to the tooth.
Because both techniques reach below the gum line, Dr. Zakhour numbs the area before treatment. Typically, she treats one quadrant of the mouth at a time (upper right, upper left, lower right, lower left).
Once bacteria and plaque and tartar deposits are removed, the gums are able to heal and reattach to the tooth surface, helping to prevent new infection. Depending on the severity of your gum disease, Dr. Zakhour may prescribe antibiotics during the healing phase, as well. Follow-up visits ensure healing is progressing and your gum health is restored.
Assessing your risk of gum disease
Since gum disease symptoms can be hard to spot initially, the only way to really assess your gum health is to schedule an office visit. During your exam, we’ll evaluate your gums and measure the gum pockets to ensure you’re not on the cusp of a serious gum infection.
To schedule your visit or to learn more about gum disease prevention and treatment, call 571-290-7035 or book an appointment online with Dr. Zakhour today.