Treatments for Gum Disease in Bethesda

Gum disease is an often underdiagnosed condition that affects at least 80 percent of Americans. If left untreated, gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can cause tooth loss, introduce harmful bacteria into the body, and worsen many inflammatory health conditions. Periodontal disease has been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, preterm and low birth weight babies, Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, and respiratory illnesses. Once it develops, periodontal disease is a chronic condition, but your Bethesda general dentist can help keep it in check with a variety of treatments for every stage.

So what exactly is gum disease? It is an infection of the gums that starts with plaque that is not adequately cleaned from the teeth, which hardens and forms tartar, a substance that can only be removed by a dental professional. Tartar along the gum line creates a separation between the gums and teeth, known as periodontal pockets. These spaces collect bacteria, which cause inflammation and infection of the gum tissues.

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

You can help reduce your risk of developing gum disease by seeing Dr. Hornstein for dental cleanings every six months, brushing your teeth a minimum of twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. However, even with vigilant oral hygiene practices, some patients are at a higher risk of gum infection. Hormones are a big contributing factor to gum disease, and you are more likely to develop gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, during puberty, pregnancy, or menopause. Diabetes is another risk factor, as diabetics have a more difficult time fighting infections. Smokers also face a higher risk of gum disease because they often have lowered immune systems, and the chemicals in tobacco products reduce blood flow to the gum tissues. Those with cancer, AIDS, or other conditions that affect the immune system may also be more susceptible to periodontal disease. Sometimes medications are to blame, specifically those that cause dry mouth, as saliva helps keep infection-causing bacteria in check.

Conservative Periodontal Treatments

To treat the early stages of gum disease, our first course of action is often a deep cleaning. Also called scaling and root planing, this procedure removes debris and bacteria from the periodontal pockets and smoothes the rough surfaces of the tooth roots. This allows infected gum tissues to heal and reattach to the teeth. Dr. Hornstein may also prescribe an antimicrobial mouth rinse or topical antibiotics to help heal the infection.

Advanced Technology to Treat Gum Disease

Modern technology can help make deep cleanings more efficient and comfortable, especially in more advanced stages of periodontal disease. Your Bethesda general dentist uses the revolutionary LightWalker laser for Wavelength-Optimized Periodontal Therapy (WPT). This technology gently and precisely removes bacteria beneath the gum line, hard calculus on the tooth roots, and diseased gum tissues. The LightWalker also helps regenerate bone in pockets with bone loss and stimulates healing of gum tissues, helping to avoid the tooth loss that often accompanies advanced periodontal disease. Additionally, laser therapy sterilizes the periodontal pockets and seals them for optimal healing and reattachment of the gums to the teeth. A revolution in gum disease therapy, laser technology can help increase your chances of holding onto your natural teeth for life.

Experience the Difference

Dentistry of Bethesda provides compassionate, personalized dental care for all members of your family, including those with special needs. Contact Bethesda dentist Dr. Spencer Hornstein today at (301) 530-2700 to schedule your consultation. We happily treat patients from Silver Spring, North Bethesda, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Potomac, and the surrounding areas.