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Treating Gum Disease

By Pamela Li, in Articles, on March 30, 2011 | Comments (0)

Ottawa , ON- Ottawa cosmetic dentistry provider Dr. Pamela Li has extensive experience treating periodontal – or gum – disease.  However, she notes that the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of gum disease are not well understood by many dental patients. Periodontal disease can be serious, and is the leading reason for tooth loss in Canadian adults.

The early stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis, in which plaque builds up, allows the accumulation of bacteria and causes the gums to be red and inflamed - and sometimes bleed during brushing and flossing.

If the gingivitis is not treated and reversed, it becomes periodontitis, a more serious stage of gum disease. With periodontitis, the gum recedes from the teeth and creates little pockets which then collect debris and become infected. The plaque can spread below the gum line. The toxins in the plaque’s bacteria start to break down the bone and tissues that hold the teeth in position. As the pockets deepen, more bone is destroyed. Eventually, teeth become loose and the patient begins to lose teeth, points out the Ottawa dental care provider.

Tooth loss isn’t the only risk with periodontitis. Gum disease in pregnant women has been linked to low birth weight babies. The additional bacteria can spread elsewhere in the body, putting patients at risk for other infections. Gum disease is also considered a risk factor for cardiac disease and strokes. Patients with diabetes are at greater risk of developing gum disease and, therefore, must be extra careful with their oral health.

“Other risk factors include smoking, bad oral habits, taking certain medications, and a family history of gum disease,” says Li, an Ottawa smile makeover dentist.

In the gingivitis stage, gum disease can be treated primarily with improved oral hygiene habits such as careful brushing and daily flossing. During a typical checkup and cleaning, the dentist’s staff will clean above and below the gum line to remove plaque and tartar (plaque that has hardened on a tooth surface). Tartar can only be removed with a professional cleaning.

“If you have serious or persistent periodontal disease, I might recommend that cleanings occur more frequently than twice a year. This can help us stay on top of the problem,” notes Li, an Ottawa teeth cleaning provider.

If a dentist finds plaque and tartar under the gums, he or she may also recommend deeper scaling and root planing, non-surgical procedures that allow the dentist to scrape away plaque and smooth rough spots on the tooth root.

In her practice, Ottawa Invisalign dentist Li tries to treat periodontal disease with the most conservative and least invasive methods available.

“I often treat gum disease with Arestin, an antibacterial powder placed in localized deep periodontal pockets. It is released slowly into the gum pocket over a period of 21 days,” explains Li, an Ottawa general dentist. “I also use a diode laser. The light energy helps decrease inflammation and increase healing.”

“When patients hear the words ‘periodontal disease,’ they often imagine painful and expensive surgery,” observes Li, an Ottawa dental crown dentist. “But it doesn’t have to be that way at all. There are many ways to treat even serious disease in ways that minimize a patient’s discomfort and inconvenience.”

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