Gum disease, the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States, affects approximately half of the population, report the Centers for Disease Control. In most cases, this inflammatory disorder is preventable if you practice good at-home oral hygiene and don’t smoke. However, many people have risk factors for gum disease that are outside of their control, like hormonal shifts and family history. If you suspect you have gum disease or if you’ve received a formal diagnosis, knowing who to turn to for treatment can cause some confusion (especially if you look for guidance online).
Always Start with Your General Dentist
Immediately schedule a checkup with your family/general dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Gums that bleed when you brush, floss, or use a toothpick.
- Bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away, even if you avoid certain foods (like garlic and onions).
- Gums that look bright red, dark red, or even purplish.
- Gums that look as though they have pulled back from the tooth, giving your teeth a long appearance.
Your family dentist can make an accurate diagnosis and suggest treatment options appropriate to the severity of your condition. In addition, he can schedule follow-up appointments to check on the progress of your treatment and make any adjustments necessary.
Self-Treating: Is it Wise?
Gum disease, specifically the mildest form of gum disease called gingivitis, is one of the few oral diseases where self-treatment is the standard protocol. Gingivitis can often be reversed via improved at-home dental hygiene and the use of prescription mouth rinses, like those containing chlorhexadine. To complement your dentist-prescribed self-treatment routine, naturopathic approaches to gum disease, like drinking unsweetened green tea and practicing oil pulling, have been shown in studies to further improve gum health.
When to Seek a Gum Disease Specialist
If you have severe or extensive gum disease that your dentist does not feel he can adequately treat or if the disease has caused significant damage to the surrounding tissues (like the connective tissue or the alveolar bone), your dentist may choose to refer you to a gum specialist called a periodontist. With their extensive post-graduate training in matters related to gum health, periodontists can provide more aggressive treatment options and perform reconstructive procedures, like bone grafting and even tooth extraction and replacement, in cases where permanent damage has occurred.
About Shawn Hofkes, DDS
With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in oral and IV sedation, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is qualified to provide advanced dental services from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.