Your Alpharetta dentist, Dr. Woods is concerned with your overall oral health, not just the health of your teeth themselves. A thorough oral examination will always include checking on the health of not only your teeth, but also your gums and other surrounding oral tissues. Dr. Woods is checking, among other things, to see if you have gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. He or she is also looking for warning signs of its more severe cousin, periodontitis. Proper oral hygiene is important to ensure that you do not develop gingivitis that, left untreated, can lead to periodontitis and irreversible tooth and bone loss, or that if you do, you can seek treatment early in order to avoid these unpleasant and unhealthy complications.
Gingivitis is the first step on the road to periodontitis, and is an inflammation of the gums. Gingivitis develops when plaque accumulates on the surface of your teeth, causing your gums to become inflamed. You may notice that your gums are red near your teeth, instead of your normal healthy pink. You may also notice some tenderness in your gum area, or bleeding when you brush your teeth. Take heed of these early warning signs and consult with Dr. Woods. At this stage there is generally no irreversible damage. Treatment of early gingivitis is relatively straightforward and generally involves a thorough dental cleaning and follow up home oral care.
You and Dr. Woods can work together to develop a treatment plan that is right for you to ensure that your gums return to their normal, healthy state as soon as possible.
If left unchecked, gingivitis progresses to a condition known as periodontitis. This is full on gum disease and can have gnarly consequences. At this point, gum tissues and even bone have pulled away from the teeth, leaving large pockets that fill with plaque, debris, and bacteria. This leads to infection below the gum line, and you body marshals its defenses to attack the plaque and bacteria that is spreading below your gum line. At this point the bone and connective tissues that hold your teeth in place begin to break down, which can lead to a loosening of your teeth. In advanced cases of periodontitis, teeth can even fall out. The changes to your connective tissue, bone loss, and tooth loss that come with periodontitis are, unfortunately, irreversible. If enough bone is lost due to periodontitis, even restorative treatments such as dental implants can be difficult, leaving options for repair limited.
Because the changes that result from advanced periodontitis are irreversible, it is extremely important to be vigilant and consult with Dr. Woods at the earliest signs of gingivitis in order to seek early treatment and avoid these complications altogether. Watch out for reddened gums or bleeding when you brush your teeth. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you should still consult your dentist for regularly scheduled oral examinations to ensure that your overall oral health is good and to treat any problems before they reach a stage where expensive restoration, veneers, implants, or other treatments become necessary.