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Gum Grafting: Everything You Need to Know

3D rendering of gum graft surgery.
Gum Recession: Soft tissue gum graft surgery. 3D illustration of Dental treatment

Many people neglect their oral health. But oral health will affect all the other parts of your body. Poor dental hygiene can contribute to diseases like heart disease and diabetes if not treated properly. Going to regular dental checkups and working with your dental team to make a health plan will benefit your entire body.

If your dentist or periodontist told you that you need a gum graft, you may have a lot of questions. It sounds like an intense procedure just by the name and maybe making you feel nervous. Learning about gum grafting, the procedures, and recovery time is an important step to alleviating these worries.

What Is Gum Grafting?

Gum grafting helps to protect your teeth if the gum line has receded. It can also improve your smile. A small amount of new gum tissue is moved to an area where gum tissue is needed. It covers the root surfaces of your teeth to protect them from infection, sensitivity, and damage.

Gum Recession from Wear or Gum Disease

Gum grafting can improve the look of your mouth, but most often it is for resolving the issues of gum recession. Receding gums happens when the gums around your teeth wear away and leave the root of the tooth exposed. This can happen from brushing too hard or from gum disease.

Gums act as a natural barrier for the more sensitive parts of your tooth against the outside elements. Having root exposure can cause damage to the bone and later lead to the loss of the tooth.

Gum recession is a fairly common issue that a large number of adults deal with. Because it can start so gradually, it may go unnoticed for a long time. You may only notice it when it gets severe. Going to the dentist regularly will help you find the problem sooner. You can take preventative steps to avoid the problem.

In addition to not looking very nice, gum recession also leads to other problems. The root of the tooth can become discolored and look bad. It can also cause tooth sensitivity, and you may notice a difference when you eat or drink foods that are hot or cold. If left unattended for too long, the entire tooth could become compromised and need to be removed.

Gum Grafting Procedure

There are basically three different types of gum grafts that periodontists use. The kind used will depend on a lot of factors, and you will want to discuss with Dr. Trujillo which option is best for you.

#1 Connective Tissues Grafts

Connective-tissue grafts are the most common procedure. The periodontist makes an incision on the roof of your mouth and creates a flap of skin that can be pulled back. The periodontist removes the tissue underneath the flap and stitched it to the tissue around the exposed root. After securing the graft tissue, the flap of skin on the roof of your mouth is also stitched back down.

#2 Free Gingival Grafts

Free gingival grafts are similar to connective-tissue grafts. They also use tissue from the roof of your mouth, but instead of taking the tissue from underneath a flap of skin, the periodontist takes tissue directly from the roof of the mouth. This is more common if the patient has thin gums and requires more tissue to resolve the problem.

#3 Pedicle Grafts

Pedicle grafts are another option your periodontist may consider. Instead of taking the tissue from the roof of the mouth, the tissue comes from the gums surrounding the exposed root. The periodontist makes an incision on the gum and then stretches it to cover the root and sows it into place. This is only possible in patients that have a lot of gum tissue directly where needed.

In rarer cases, tissue may come from a tissue bank instead of the roof of your mouth. Tissue-stimulating proteins help your body naturally produce more tissue. Your periodontist will address any issues or concerns you have with the method he recommends before proceeding.

Recovery After Gum Grafting

Gum grafting is an outpatient procedure, and you will be able to go home directly afterward. A sedative can help before the procedure to ease anxiety. If this is the case, then you should not drive yourself home. You should make other arrangements for your transportation until the sedative wears off.

Following Instructions for Recovery

You should always pay careful attention to the instructions your dentist gives you for your recovery. They will give you instructions regarding your diet, physical activity, and medications. You should not floss or brush the gums that have received repair until completely healed. Your periodontist may also give you a special mouth rinse that will control the plaque levels while it heals. An antibiotic ointment may also be prescribed to help prevent infection at the site of the repair.

Eat Soft Foods

Your dental team will probably advise you to eat soft, cool foods after the procedure like eggs, pasta, gelatin, yogurt, and ice cream. It will probably take a week or two for your mouth to completely heal, but that should not impede your ability to perform your normal daily activities. You should expect to experience a little bit of pain at the sites of repair and tissue extraction. Talk to your dentist about managing your pain levels with over-the-counter or prescribed medication.

Should Issues Arise

You should reach out to your periodontist if you have questions during recovery or start to notice problems forming. If you have bleeding in your mouth that won’t stop after applying pressure for 20 minutes, you need to contact the periodontist and/or your doctor right away. You should also manage the pain, swelling, and bruising with medication. Contact your Dr. Trujillo if the pain or bruising exceeds expected levels.

Contact Arizona Periodontal Group

Our trained team of periodontal professionals can help you through this process. If you have noticed the warning signs of gum recession and tooth sensitivity, you should make an appointment today. Gum recession will get worse over time unless taken care of. Don’t put it off or ignore it. Contact Arizona Periodontal Group today for gum grafting.

Tips for Avoiding Periodontal Disease

Periodontist explaining what periodontal disease looks like to a patient in a dentist’s chair.

Periodontal disease is also commonly referred to as gum disease or periodontitis. This is a serious type of gum infection, which causes damage to the soft tissue. Without treatment, periodontal disease can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. This can ultimately result in tooth loss, so it is not something that shouldn’t be ignored.

While this disease is fairly common, it is also preventable in most instances. In fact, poor oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease. We are going to look at some things you can do to reduce your chances of experiencing periodontal disease.

Things You Can Do to Prevent Periodontal Disease?

No one wants to experience gum disease. The way to avoid it is to develop positive habits that keep your gums healthy. Let’s take a look at some of the things that you can do to reduce the chances of gum disease. 

Brush Your Teeth Regularly

The first thing you need to do is make sure you brush your teeth at least twice per day; once first thing in the morning and again when you go to bed. It is also beneficial to brush your teeth after meals, as this helps to get rid of any plaque and food debris that is stuck in between your gums and teeth. Don’t forget to brush your teeth as well, as bacteria loves to hide here!

Use Mouthwash – Not Immediately After Brushing

Another important habit to adopt is using mouthwash. This is beneficial because it can rid your mouth of any plaque or food particles left behind while brushing. However, it’s not advisable to use mouthwash immediately after brushing. This is where a lot of people go wrong. If you use mouthwash straight after brushing, it will wipe away the fluoride, therefore, reducing the effectiveness of the toothpaste.

Don’t Forget to Floss

Another important habit to get into is flossing your teeth. Dentists recommend flossing once per day, at least, to remove plaque and food particles stuck in between your teeth. Flossing will remove those particles that brushing your teeth is not able to, particularly those along the gum line.

If you have never flossed before, don’t worry, you will soon get used to it. If you’re not sure about the technique of flossing, watch video demonstrations to get the right method down. 

Understand Your Risk

In addition to adopting good dental hygiene habits, it is also important to know about your risk of gum disease. There are a number of factors that can increase your chance of getting periodontal disease. These can include genetics, diet, smoking, and age. If you have a higher risk of gum disease, look for early signs or symptoms. We will discuss this more in the next section to give you a better understanding.

Visit Your Dentist for Regular Check-ups

Aside from the suggestions that have been mentioned so far, booking regular dental check-ups is highly recommended. As we get older, it can be easy to overlook the importance of going to the dentist twice a year. However, this is important.

Not only will your dentist make sure that your teeth are in pristine condition, but will discover early signs of dental problems, such as gum disease. This is important because treatment can start early. This allows you time to get the treatment you need before the damage from gum disease becomes irreversible. This is also imperative when it comes to picking up on the signs of any other sort of dental problems.

What To Do if You Have Sign or Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Aside from what has already been suggested, if you start to notice signs or symptoms of gum disease, schedule an appointment with Dr. Trujillo. The sooner you receive treatment, the easier it is to treat gum disease. You also have a better chance of not experiencing severe consequences, such as tooth loss.

Signs and Symptoms To Watch For

So, what are some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for? Healthy gums are pale pink, firm, and they fit around your teeth snugly. Therefore, some of the symptoms of periodontal disease you should watch for include:

  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bit
  • Gums that are receding (pulling away from your teeth), causing your teeth to appear longer than normal
  • New spaces appearing in between your teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose teeth, which can result in loss of teeth
  • Pus in between your gums and teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Spitting out blood when you are flossing or brushing your teeth
  • Pink-tinged toothbrush after you have brushed your teeth
  • Gums that bleed with ease
  • Gums that feel tender when they are touched
  • Purplish, dusky red, or bright red gums
  • Puffy or swollen gums

Contact Arizona Periodontal Group About Periodontal Disease

If you are worried that you may have periodontal disease, please do not schedule an appointment. We have a talented and experienced team and Dr. Trujillo is an excellent periodontist in Phoenix, AZ.

Bruxism Treatment: A Comprehensive Guide to Teeth Grinding

woman using a mouth guard for bruxism treatment
Close-up Of A Woman’s Hand Putting Transparent Mouth Guard Over Teeth

Practicing good oral health is an important factor when it comes to your overall health. It not only helps you look your best with a winning smile, but good dental care helps you maintain good health in general.

Poor dental hygiene leads to a lot of health problems. Oral health issues contribute to impairments with eating and speaking properly. They also cause pain and bad breath. Bacteria that start in your mouth will also contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.

One oral health issue that people often overlook is bruxism. Learning about bruxism, the symptoms, and the treatments will help you on your journey of good oral hygiene.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is when a patient grinds, clenches, or gnash their teeth regularly. There are two kinds of the condition. Awake bruxism happens when the patient is awake but sometimes can happen without the patient realizing what they are doing. This can present as clenching teeth while awake.

Sleep bruxism happens while the patient is asleep. Clenching or grinding during sleeping hours is the most common manifestation of this condition. Sleep bruxism is categorized as a sleep-related movement disorder. Because of its link to other sleeping issues like snoring or sleep apnea, it is important to get treatment for this condition.

There are varying degrees of seriousness of this condition. A mild case may not happen very often and only for short periods of time. Treatment may not be needed in this case. If the condition is severe, you should seek bruxism treatment before it leads to other problems like headaches, damaged teeth, jaw disorders, or periodontal disease.

Symptoms of Bruxism

If you have chronic bruxism, it may not be hard for you to notice the signs and symptoms. But taking a few minutes to get familiar with the symptoms so you can notice them sooner rather than later can save your teeth.

One symptom of bruxism is grinding or clenching your teeth. This can be loud enough to wake up your partner or disturb your own sleep. Your teeth may be fractured, chipped, loose, or flattened if it is severe. You can also wear down your enamel, and you can sometimes see the deeper layers of your tooth exposed.

3D illustration of teeth grinding results
Teeth grinding (Bruxism) resulting in loss of tooth enamel. Medically accurate tooth 3D illustration.

Bruxism can also cause an increase in tooth sensitivity and pain. You can experience a locked jaw that cannot open or close completely, along with tired and tight jaw muscles from being overworked. Other areas of your face, neck, and jaw may also be sore or painful.

Pain can be present, but it may seem like an earache at first. If you feel like you have an earache, but there are no issues with your ear, it could be from teeth grinding. This can also manifest as a headache that starts in your temples.

Bruxism can lead to disruptions in sleep that can leave you feeling tired and worn out most of the time with no other causes. Damage on the inside of your cheek from chewing your skin is also an indicator of teeth grinding.

Causes of Bruxism

The causes of bruxism are not entirely clear. They may be a combination of several different factors from physical, psychological, or genetic input. Teeth grinding or clenching while you are awake may be a symptom of stress, anger, frustration, tension, or anxiety. It may also be a habit formed during periods of deep concentration on a specific task.

Sleep bruxism can be caused by the same thing. It may also be influenced by brain stimulation during dreaming and sleep.

Risk Factors Associated with Bruxism

You may be at risk of bruxism if you fall into more or one of the risk factor categories. One category is high levels of stress. If you work in a field with high levels of stress or have anxiety, then you could experience teeth grinding or clenching at higher rates than someone who does not. Personality types that are more inclined towards aggressiveness, being competitive or hyperactivity, can also develop teeth grinding and clenching.

Bruxism is seen more often in children than adults. You may notice that your child grinds their teeth. While you should monitor it and talk to your doctor, don’t be surprised if this goes away by adulthood.

Bruxism can be a side effect of some medications, like antidepressants. While it is not very common, it can happen. Using recreational drugs or other stimulants like tobacco, alcohol, or caffeine can also impact your risk of developing the condition.

Bruxism Treatment

Bruxism treatment can come in many different forms depending on the severity and underlying causes. It is best to talk to our dental team in order to know what the best course of action for you will be.

Mouth Guard

In some cases, splints or mouth guards may be needed to physically restrain the teeth from touching. They work like a retainer that you can put in your mouth, especially if your problem normally occurs at night. If there has been damage to your teeth, Dr. Trujillo may need to correct the damage to keep your teeth healthy.

Stress Management

Sometimes you may need to address your stress and anxiety levels in order to correct the teeth grinding. Relaxation techniques like meditation or breathing exercises when you notice it start to happen can reduce the issue. You can also ask Dr. Trujillo about practicing different mouth and jaw positions that make it harder to grind your teeth.

Talk to Your Doctor About Medications

Medications are not typically used to treat bruxism, but in some cases, they could be helpful. Talking to our dental team about the best course of action is necessary. Muscle relaxants right before bedtime for a short period of time can help lessen the occurrence of teeth grinding during sleep. Botox injections can also help people with severe cases of grinding, clenching, or gnashing if other treatments do not work.

If your bruxism is a side effect of another issue, then that will need to be addressed. Medications can be altered and treating sleep apnea can also help with teeth grinding at night. Treating issues like gastroesophageal reflux disease can also lessen the occurrence of bruxism.

Contact Us for Bruxism Treatment

If you feel you are regularly grinding, clenching, or gnashing your teeth at night or even during the day, schedule an appointment with Dr. Trujillo. Let us help you get the treatment you need. Contact us today.

4 Types of Periodontal Therapy

Healthy vs periodontal diseased tooth and gums illustration
human tooth of gum disease and normal tooth illustration isolated on white background

If you have been diagnosed with gum disease, you are not alone. In fact, almost half of the adult population aged 30 or older experience periodontal disease to some degree. When you are one of them, seeking periodontal therapy is crucial.

Before you seek treatment, though, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the different types of periodontal therapy and the benefits they offer. Here’s everything you need to know.

The Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease impacts 56.4% of men and 38.6% of women, but not all people will experience severe problems. Sensitive teeth, bleeding gums, and consistent bad breath are just some of the potential warning signs. No two cases are identical. 

Periodontal disease is a progressive condition caused by bacteria that infect the gum tissues. Gum disease is subsequently broken into the following four stages:

  • Gingivitis – This stage of gum disease is reversible as it has yet to impact the bone. Professional periodontal therapy to remove the bacteria followed by good home hygiene can reverse the damage.
  • Slight Periodontal Disease – Stage two of gum disease is manageable, although the bacteria has started to damage the bone. As the bacteria evolves, it will become more aggressive and cause bone loss.
  • Moderate Periodontal Disease – The third stage of gum disease is not reversible. Probing depths are up to 7mm (up from 5mm for stage two) and can attack the bloodstream or immune system.
  • Advanced Periodontal Disease – Stage four of gum disease is the most severe situation and puts you at significant risk of bone loss. The gums likely ooze pus at this stage and may need significantly more treatment.

Arizona Periodontal Group supports patients at all stages of gum disease. Your periodontal therapy will depend on the severity of the condition. The best procedures are detailed below.

Antibiotics and Prescription Mouthwash

Prevention is the best form of protection from gum disease. Practicing good oral hygiene that includes brushing twice daily for two minutes, flossing, and a fluoride toothpaste is vital.

If gum disease has already started, prescription mouthwash can help control the development of new bacteria. This mouthwash will include chlorhexidine or hexetidine as the active ingredient to help achieve this.

You should rinse your mouth before using the prescription mouthwash as some toothpastes contain ingredients that stop the mouthwash from working. Your dentist will confirm how long you should follow the prescription, but it is likely to be for around 2-3 weeks.

Antibiotics, including metronidazole or amoxicillin, are another potential periodontal therapy. The antibiotics usually come with a prescription for three days. They are usually to treat acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG). Dr. Trujillo will discuss the full directions, such as not drinking alcohol with the medication, during your consultation.

Scaling and Root Planing

You will need to remove plaque and tartar to successfully reverse gingivitis or manage more significant periodontal disease. Professional scaling and polish is the most effective solution. Arizona Periodontal Group can provide a deep clean that combats existing plaque and tartar.

Specialized dental tools scrape away the bacteria of plaque and tartar build-up. One session is often enough for minor cases of gingivitis. However, for more significant tartar growth, you may need two or three sessions. Polish removes the dark marks developed on the tooth surface.

Root planing, also known as debridement, is a related solution. It involves a similar process but gets under the gum line to clean bacteria from the root of the tooth. It is often for stage two and three periodontal disease.

You may require an anesthetic ahead of the root planing treatment. This will not be necessary for scaling.

Pocket Reduction Surgery

Pockets develop around the teeth when periodontal disease is left untreated. This means that the gum tissues no longer fit tight and snug around the tooth. As bacteria grow more aggressively, the risk of losing teeth increases. A pocket reduction surgery procedure will make the pocket space smaller, which subsequently gives bacteria less room to breed.

Pocket reduction surgery is the solution when home oral care and scaling therapy is not enough to save the teeth and underlying jawbone. This periodontal disease procedure involves folding the gum back before clearing the bacteria from the tooth. The gum tissues are then sutured back into place.

In some cases, irregular surfaces are smoothed. It is a process that removes an additional space where bacteria could potentially grow. Pocket reduction surgery can effectively prevent further progression of the periodontal disease.

The time taken to complete pocket reduction surgery varies from person to person. The number of teeth involved, along with the depths of pockets. improved oral hygiene should follow surgery to prevent the return of bacteria growth.

LANAP Laser Gum Treatment

Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure, or LANAP, is an alternative periodontal therapy that delivers optimal precision. It uses laser light that is just the size of three human hairs. It subsequently vaporizes the dark layer of pigmented bacteria. After the removal of diseased tissue, an ultrasonic scaler removes the plaque and tartar.

Following the removal of bacteria, blood clots form to stabilize healing. It prevents any bacteria from escaping into the pockets surrounding the tooth. In addition to new connective tissue, some of the bone may reform over a period of 6-12 months.

You will also receive enamel reshaping in addition to the LANAP work. It makes LANAP laser gum periodontal therapy one of the most effective and popular solutions. Patients with stage three or stage four gum disease are regular candidates.

Dr. Trujillo will explain the full procedure, along with the expectations, at your consultation. However, it is often the best solution when bacteria damage has damaged the underlying bone.

Book Periodontal Therapy in Phoenix, AZ

If your mouth is hit by gum disease, periodontal therapy is the best way to regain control. Arizona Periodontal Group has helped thousands of patients like you. To discover the extent of your periodontal disease and the right form of periodontal therapy treatment, get in touch today!

Loose Teeth: What Adults Should Do When Teeth Are Loose

man getting checked for loose teeth
Closeup over the shoulder view of a cheerful early 40’s male patient happily smiling to the camera after his dental procedure.

Loose teeth can be worrying for adults. While it’s normal for children to lose their first set of teeth, adults don’t have second chances and it may come with secondary symptoms such as bleeding gums or gum recession. If you’re concerned about loose teeth, then we recommend you get in touch with us at Phoenix Periodontist for more information about examinations and treatments to help you fix it.

Causes of Loose Teeth in Adults

Loose teeth usually occur as a result of poor dental health or an injury. It doesn’t happen without a reason, so it’s important to look at your dental history to see what could be causing it.

Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs when you have poor dental hygiene. This can be a combination of things, such as neglecting to brush your teeth or skipping dental cleanings at a dental office. It can also occur due to poor eating habits, such as snacking on a lot of sugary items and drinking a lot of soda that gradually causes your teeth to deteriorate.

An Injury

If you’ve been injured, then it’s possible that the injury has affected the area around your mouth. For instance, if you’ve fallen and hit your jaw or something, then it could cause one of your teeth to loosen.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes high levels of progesterone and estrogen to form in the body. This temporarily causes the tissues and bones in your teeth to loosen, thus creating loose teeth. It’s important to take good care of your teeth during pregnancy and to visit your dentist for regular checkups.

Other Health Conditions

Another common cause of loose teeth is Osteoporosis, a disease that weakens the bones and causes them to become porous. This leads to broken bones even when there are minor bumps or impacts. This condition typically affects areas such as the spine, hip, and wrists. However, it can also affect the bones in your jaw, thus causing loose teeth.

Loose Tooth Treatments for Adults

Thankfully, there are a number of loose tooth treatments for adults.

Antimicrobial Therapy

Antimicrobial therapy aims to inhibit the growth of bacteria in your mouth. This is one of the least invasive methods of treating gum disease and works by simply eliminating bad bacteria from the mouth using antibiotics. This can help deal with symptoms such as bleeding gums, loose teeth, and even stop a receding gum line without the need for surgery.

Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and root planing is a two-step process that helps to treat gum disease. The scaling process removes any plaque and tartar from below the gum line. Root planning then smoothes the root of the tooth and helps to reattach the gums to the teeth. This strengthens the tooth and reduces the feeling of a loose tooth.

Laser Gum Therapy

Laser gum therapy, or Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP), removes infected tissue in the mouth. It’s virtually painless and only removes infected tissue, which helps to preserve your gum line. It has a fast recovery time and is available to most patients. There’s less risk of infection because it efficiently removes any bacteria, thus reducing inflammation and reversing the effects of gum disease.

Gum Grafting

Gum grafting is a relatively simple process that aims to protect your teeth from the impact of gum recession. However, it can also be a cosmetic treatment. Gum grafting typically involves harvesting tissue and then attaching it to your existing gum tissue. This helps to make your gums a lot stronger which supports your loose teeth.

Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is a procedure for situations where gum disease has been present in the mouth for a long time. The goal is to stabilize loose teeth and also improve the appearance of your gums and mouth. Bone grafting repairs dental implant sites and strengthens your jaw structure if affected by gum disease.

Dental Implants If Tooth Removal is Necessary

If your tooth needs to be removed, then we may suggest dental implants. If your gum disease is heavily affecting certain teeth, then they may be the best option in order to prevent it from affecting other teeth. In this case, you may want to consider a dental implant as a form of tooth replacement. These teeth look natural and feel exactly the same as your regular teeth. They can also last for decades with proper care, such as regular dental checkups and brushing.

How to Prevent Loose Teeth

If your gum disease hasn’t progressed very far then it’s possible to prevent loose teeth in the first place.

Good Oral Hygiene

Basic oral hygiene is important when it comes to preventing loose teeth. This involves brushing at least twice a day, flossing between your teeth, drinking plenty of water, and establishing a healthy diet that avoids sugary drinks and snacks.

Not Smoking

Smoking causes more dental plaque to form in the mouth and accelerates the progression of gum disease. To look after your dental health, we strongly suggest that you quit or lessen the amount that you smoke.

Regular Dental Checkups

Regular dental checkups will help you examine your teeth and the condition of your gums. This will help you detect the early signs of gum disease so you can effectively prevent loose teeth and protect your dental health.

Visit a Periodontist for Loose Teeth

A periodontist can help examine your dental health and provide you with effective solutions to help you strengthen loose teeth. Everyone’s dental health situation is different, which is why we personalized solutions for every patient. Arizona Periodontal Group is led by Dr. Trujillo, a talented and specialized periodontists in Phoenix, AZ.

Whether you’re looking for regular dental appointments to protect your teeth or treatments for a loose tooth, get in touch with us today for more information.

Start your day with a beautiful smile.

When you visit our office, your oral health is our top priority. Dr. Trujillo and his entire team is dedicated to providing you with the personalized, gentle care that you deserve.