Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, and is characterized by puffy, red, or swollen gums. Many patients with gingivitis also notice bleeding when they brush and floss. This gum inflammation is caused by plaque deposits that accumulate on the teeth. If plaque is not routinely removed through proper oral hygiene, it can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis. This condition can usually be reversed with regular dental cleanings and proper brushing and flossing.
If gingivitis remains untreated, the condition can worsen. The bacteria in the plaque can travel deeper into the gums, affecting the bone the supports the teeth. Slowly eroding the jawbone, the bacteria form pockets around the teeth roots, which can harbor further debris, plaque, and bacteria. At this stage, the condition is known as periodontitis. From this point forward, it can continue damaging the bone if left untreated, ultimately leading to mobility and tooth loss.
During every routine dental visit, our doctors or hygienists will assess your periodontal health. To do this, they will measure the pockets around your teeth. If the pockets measure one to three millimeters, it denotes optimal health. If gingivitis is present, the pockets will measure around four millimeters, due to the slight gum inflammation. Periodontitis is indicated by pockets that are five millimeters or higher. Typically, the higher the number, the more advanced the gum disease.
Once gum disease reaches the stage of periodontitis, it requires professional intervention. However, if diagnosed in the early stages, periodontitis can be treated through non-surgical, minimally invasive means. At Maidu Dental, we offer two different non-surgical treatments for gum disease:
Scaling and Root Planing: Sometimes called a deep cleaning, this procedure removes debris, bacteria, and plaque deposits from the teeth and smooths the root surfaces to discourage further irritants from reattaching. Local anesthesia will be administered to keep you comfortable during the procedure. Depending on your unique situation, this treatment can be completed in a single visit or multiple appointments.
Periodontal Laser Therapy: In some cases, our soft tissue diode laser can be used to treat periodontitis. This advanced dental technology can target infected tissue while leaving the healthy tissue intact. Laser therapy is especially useful for sterilizing periodontal pockets and eliminating bacteria. The diode laser does not require scalpels or stitches. There is also less bleeding because it cauterizes as it incises.