Gingivitis & Periodontal Disease

ToothWhat is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue.  Generally gingivitis occurs in response to the bacteria in plaque and tartar on your teeth.  The most common sign of gingivitis is bleeding gums when brushing your teeth.  With a thorough dental cleaning, gingivitis is completely reversible and your gums will heal within days.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal Disease or Periodontitis is when gingivitis progresses to the next level and the inflammation process moves to the supporting structures (gums and bone) of the tooth. Tartar and plaque will hide deep below the gum line and cannot be removed with brushing and flossing.

We are able to diagnosis periodontitis with a comprehensive soft tissue exam using a probe and an evaluation of your x-rays. Once periodontal disease starts the break down process we can only arrest the problem with a “deep” cleaning or Scaling and Root Planing to remove the hidden tartar. Often, this deep cleaning is sufficient to arrest the disease process.  However, sometimes additional cleanings or other procedures are required to slow or arrest the disease process.  Once the disease process is no longer in the active state, you will be maintained with regular cleanings at two to six month intervals depending on your own personal needs.

Occasionally during a scaling and root planing we like to place an antibiotic in the deep, diseased pocket. The antibiotic used is called Arestin. This antibiotic therapy is an adjunct service to help with destroying any bacteria that was not removed during the scaling procedure.   During a scaling and root planing most of the bacteria is mechanically removed with special tools. At times the diseased pocket is so deep that some bacteria is left hidden at the bottom.  Arestin, a yellow powder containing microspheres of minocycline hydrochloride, is delivered to the area.  This antibiotic will allow the pocket to stay bacteria free, allowing for better healing.

We now know that teeth and gums have a significant effect on the overall health of your body. Did you know that gum disease can put you at risk for stroke and exacerbate your diabetic condition? Studies show that people with chronic periodontal disease are more likely to have strokes, and the presence of gum inflammation can make it harder for a diabetic to control their blood sugar.

With regular dental cleanings and check-ups, Dr. Cohen, Dr. Shaw and their hygienists can monitor the health of your oral cavity. Routine oral cancer screenings are done at every dental cleaning, and any abnormalities are always charted, photographed, and further observed.

Remember the best way to keep a healthy mouth is by good homecare habits. Brushing two to three times a day and flossing once is ideal.  And don’t forget to change your toothbrush every three months!

Are X-rays safe?

Because of widespread media coverage, patients may have questions about the safety of dental X-rays. Below are some potential questions and talking points.

I heard on the news that dental X-rays can cause brain tumors. Is that true?

  • There was a recent study that showed patients with a certain type of brain tumor were more likely to report they had dental X-rays in the past. But, that doesn’t mean dental X-rays cause brain tumors. The reliability of the results is uncertain because they were based on people’s memories—which are not always accurate—of dental X-rays taken many years ago. In some cases, the patients were asked to remember the type and frequency of X-rays taken when they were 10 or younger.
  • Some participants in the study had X-rays taken decades ago. Advancements in technology have successfully reduced radiation from dental X-rays to very low levels. In fact, they are among the lowest levels of all medical tests. This means that radiation levels were likely higher for the study participants than they are for patients today. As a point of comparison, the amount of radiation you’ll get from one bitewing X-ray is the same as from one hour flying in an airplane.
  • The good thing about the study is that it raises awareness that getting X-rays should not be taken lightly and should be done only when necessary.

What precautions do dentists take to reduce the radiation risks of dental X-rays?

  • Dentists use leaded aprons to protect the body and, whenever possible, thyroid collars around the neck to protect the thyroid gland. Both of these devices limit radiation exposure.
  • New technologies, like faster speed films and digital imaging, reduce exposure to radiation.

I am worried about having dental X-rays. What are the benefits?

  • There are many oral diseases that can’t be detected with just a visual or physical exam. Dental X-rays can help your dentist find cavities between your teeth or under fillings, gum and bone diseases, and infection under your gums, and some types of tumors. X-rays help dentists catch and treat these hidden problems at an early stage before more extensive and expensive dental treatment is needed.

Is your smile ready for Summer?

We are helping our patients prep for the perfect pictures this summer. With weddings, graduations, family BBQ’s, pool and beach days quickly approaching, we know our patients will be snapping more smiling selfies than ever.

  • Let smiles shine! Remember to brush and rinse after eating summer foods, especially berries that can stain teeth.
  • Drink & eat healthy snacks! Chronic exposure to sports drinks can be bad for the enamel since they are acidic and high in sugar. Limit your intake by drinking fruit infused water and eating fresh fruit and vegetables at hand.
  • If you’re away from your tooth brush, chew sugar-free gum with xylitol after your meal to get rid of any food debris.
  • Bright & White! For either a special occasion this summer or to enhance your smile, do an in-office whitening treatment. Lighten your teeth in just 1 hour!
  • Help prevent dental problems over the summer by booking your children’s dental check-up after school ends.
  • Dental Emergencies. Summer fun means hanging by the pool which can be very slippery! Be very cautious but in case of any emergency, Greenwich Cosmetic Dentistry is always a phone call away and available 24/7!