Win The War Against Your Gums With Gingival Surgery
There's a war raging in your mouth every single day. Enemy microbial agents want what you've got: a nice, warm, moist place - like your mouth - to set up their operations. Once they've invaded and damaged your dental health, these gum-loving microbes branch out, entering the bloodstream and taking up residence in organs like the heart.
The good news is that you can win the war against these agents. This article discusses the enemies of your gums, some of the signs of gum disease, and the surgeries your dental professional is able to perform to restore your gum health.
What's eating your gingiva?
The medical term for the gums is the gingiva, that pink mucosal tissue into which gums nestle. The gingiva in turn covers the periodontium, which includes the bone and ligaments that support the teeth.
Bacteria love to nestle under the gingiva, too, where they quickly multiply and form a biofilm - what dentists call plaque - and begin attacking and inflaming gums. One of these is porphyromonas gingivalis, a very destructive enemy to the gums. Like one of its war buddies, Treponema denticola, porphyromonas gingivalis doesn't like oxygen. These bacteria thrive under the gumline, where saliva can't wash them away and oxygen exposure can't kill them.
Over time, these two enemies, along with their buddies like Tannerella forsythia and Fusobacterium nucleatum, can destroy your gums, erode your jawbone and cause your teeth to fall out. Not only that, but these bacteria have been shown in some studies to be linked with serious heart disease.
What are the signs of gum disease?
You may not notice the first signs of gum disease, but your dentist will. That's why regular dental exams are so important. There may be a slight inflammation of the gums, and pockets of infection may begin forming just under the gums, but you may not be aware of these signs.
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, this is a sign that gum disease has advanced to moderate or late stage periodontal disease. Remember, those open, bleeding spots in your gums are a key way for the bad bacteria to enter your bloodstream and start attacking your organs.
Other signs of gum disease are receding gums, tender gums, infections or puffiness in the gum line that you can feel, and loose teeth.
What surgeries are available to help correct gum disease?
There are a number of surgical options to win the battle against the gum invaders.
Today, some dental surgeons use perioscopes - tiny cameras with lights - to see under the gum line. Often they can use a tool in combination with the scope to scrape off plaque under the gumline without further surgery.
Gingival flap surgery involves cutting and then temporarily folding down the gumline so that the surgeon can gain access to the root and bone supporting the tooth to treat periodontal infection.
Gingivoplasty is a method to build up damaged gums so they can better support teeth.
Gum grafting involves taking mucosal tissue - usually from the roof of the mouth - and transplanting it on to weakened areas of the gums to build up the gingiva. Other material, such as mesh inserts, can also be used to strengthen the gums and jaw.
You can help your mouth win the war against gum disease by brushing and flossing every day, by avoiding sugary foods and sodas, by quitting smoking, and by not sharing drinks or toothbrushes, since the bacteria that cause gum disease are very contagious and can be spread from mouth to mouth.
Also, talk to your dentist about the side effects of any drugs you are taking. Some medicines can decrease saliva production or thicken the gingiva, making you more prone to gum irritation and infection.
If you've got a war raging in your gums, contact your dental professional today to learn about surgical options for dental victory. When you and your dental surgeon beat back the enemies of your mouth with gum surgery, you'll be protecting all of your organs from bacterial attack.