Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease

Many questions concerning our Houston periodontal treatments can be answered by our Periodontist, by our staff over the phone, or during your first office visit. Please call during office hours for more information, or schedule an appointment.

You Can Prevent Periodontitis

Periodontics is the specialized area of dentistry which focuses on the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontists strive to prevent and treat diseases which affect the gums.

Instances of periodontal disease are more widespread than ever before. Learn the warning signs and prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene daily and see your dentist regularly.

Dr. Adams on periodontal infection

» What is periodontal disease?

It’s a gum disease that includes gingivitis as well as periodontitis. Periodontal disease is an advanced bacterial infection affecting both the gums and the bone which support your teeth. Left untreated, it often leads to tooth loss.

What causes periodontal disease?

While there are several, the primary cause of periodontal disease is the bacterial plaque build-up on your teeth. Still more causes include:

  • people genetically predisposed to gum disease (appox 30%)
  • times of hormonal changes such as pregnancy, puberty, menstruation
  • stress, which limits the body’s ability to fight off infections
  • certain drugs and medications which can affect your overall health
  • smoking is another factor negatively affecting the health of your gums
  • pressure on supporting tissues from grinding or clenching your teeth
  • diabetes, a condition which carries more risk for developing infections
  • poor nutrition makes it harder for the immune system to fight off infection

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?

Since periodontal disease attacks below the gum line, you probably won’t experience any noticeable symptoms at first. With gingivitis, a mild form of periodontal disease, the gums redden, become swollen and sensitive, plus they bleed easily when brushed.

Without treatment, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis where more serious symptoms manifest with:

  • toxic bacteria producing bad breath
  • progressive and destructive infection
  • degeneration of supportive tissues and bone
  • gums receding from teeth forming deep pockets around them
  • loosening and/or shifting of the teeth
  • eventual extraction and tooth loss

How can I prevent gum disease?

If you’re a smoker, quit immediately. There are numerous studies concluding that smoking substantially increases your risks of gum disease and subsequent tooth loss. The next best preventative measure to avoid gum disease would be daily brushing and flossing to remove the build-up of plague or tartar, a sticky, colorless film which forms on your teeth.

Personal daily cleaning will help minimize the danger, however, keep in mind that only regular visits to your dentist for a thorough cleaning and examination two times a year will prevent gum disease before it begins.

What does periodontal treatment involve and are the treatments painful?

Our periodontal treatments are administered in a clean, sanitary environment by a competent periodontist. We take great pride in using the most modern equipment, sterilization techniques and periodontal procedures. As with any dental procedure, there is some degree of discomfort. However, with the use of anesthetics, most patients feel little, if any pain.

For a general outline of procedures, see the periodontal treatment section of this website.

What is crown lengthening?

When not enough tooth surface exists above the gum line to prepare a tooth for a crown, we perform crown lengthening. This provides more surface to establish a stable crown, resulting in less gum irritation too. Additionally, if you have an uneven gum line, or a “gummy” smile, our crown lengthening procedure can make your teeth appear longer, more even.

What are gum and soft tissue grafts?

Soft tissue grafts are used to reduce gum recession, cover exposed roots protecting them from decay and to enhance the appearance of your smile. The periodontist takes gum tissue from your palate or another area of the mouth and grafts it to the receding gum line in order to cover any exposed roots.

What is pocket depth reduction?

Periodontal disease destroys gum tissues and bone which support your teeth — creating pockets around them. Without treatment, these pockets become even deeper, providing more space for bacteria to thrive. As more bacteria develops around the teeth, it can accumulate to the point where further bone and tissue degeneration results in tooth loss.

A pocket reduction procedure involves folding back the gums and removing disease-causing bacteria, then securing the gum tissue back into place. Any irregular surfaces of damaged bone may also be smoothed to limit areas that could harbor bacteria. This enables your gum tissue to more easily re-attach itself to healthy bone.

How do the benefits of dental implants compare to dentures or bridges?

In many instances implants can be a better choice for solving problems of missing teeth. Considering how dental implants look and feel just like your own teeth, they’re ideal for cosmetic enhancement. Since implants fuse together with your bone’s structure, they actually prevent bone loss and/or gum recession which often occurs with bridgework and dentures.

What should I expect during my first appointment?

In the event your general dentist referred you, and since he or she is fully aware of your existing condition and needs, we work closely together with his/her office to ensure you get the best possible care. During your first visit, you’ll receive a periodontal exam to evaluate bone loss around your teeth. X-rays might also be taken to further assess your condition.

Following the examination, Dr. Adams will thoroughly discuss his findings with you, make recommendations for treatment and at the same time answer any questions you may have. We want all our patients to feel comfortable plus have a clear understanding of their dental problems as well as the procedural options our dental practice can provide.

Do you recommend dental hygiene maintenance?

Absolutely. Dental hygiene maintenance is an important, ongoing task that’s shared between your dentist, your gum disease specialist and your dental hygienist. We have one full-time and one part-time dental hygienist who clean your teeth and help to eliminate persistent, recurring bacteria. Once proper dental hygiene has restored your mouth to its optimum health, you still want your hygienists to monitor your teeth and gums to prevent any future problems such as periodontal disease.

What are the consequences of my delaying treatment till later?

Besides bacterial infection, gum and bone deterioration and tooth loss, periodontal disease can cause other ill health issues. As periodontal bacteria gets into surrounding bone, it then has an entry point into the blood stream and can contribute to a host of serious medical problems. Recent studies have confirmed that patients with periodontal disease are two times more likely to suffer heart disease and stroke.

Periodontal infections have also been linked to:

  • premature childbirth
  • diabetes
  • respiratory disease
  • transmission of periodontal infections to family members

Don’t wait till it’s too late and you have lost teeth. Before periodontal disease can spread, it is imperative that you seek competent, medical attention as soon as possible.

Will my insurance cover Dr. Adams’ treatments?

If you have dental insurance, your policy may provide full or partial coverage. Our office coordinator can contact your insurance company for you and determine what treatment(s) they will cover. We will gladly discuss and answer to the best of our knowledge any payment or insurance questions you may have.