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Posts for tag: gum disease

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
June 03, 2020
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease  

Periodontal (gum) disease often involves more than gum inflammation. The real danger is what this bacterial infection may be doing to tissues beneath the gum line—including tooth roots and supporting bone.

Gum disease can do extensive damage to the forked areas where the roots separate from the main tooth body. If one of these areas, known as a furcation, becomes infected, the associated bone may begin to diminish. And you may not even know it's happening.

Fortunately, we may be able to detect a furcation involvement using x-rays and tactile (touch) probing. The findings from our examination will not only verify a furcation involvement exists, but also how extensive it is according to a formal classification system that dentists use for planning further treatment.

A Class I involvement under this system signifies the beginning of bone loss, usually a slight groove in the bone. Class II signifies two or more millimeters of bone loss. Class III, also called a “through and through,” represents bone loss that extends from one side of the root to the other.

The class of involvement will guide how we treat it. Obviously, the lower the class, the less extensive that treatment will be. That's why regular dental checkups or appointments at the first sign of gum problems are a must.

The first-line treatment for furcation involvements is much the same as for gum disease in general: We manually remove bacterial plaque, the main source of infection, from the root surfaces using hand instruments and ultrasonic equipment. This is often followed by localized antibiotics to further disinfect the area and stymie the further growth of the furcation involvement.

We also want to foster the regrowth of lost tissue, if at all possible. Classes II and III involvements may present a challenge in this regard, ultimately requiring grafting surgery to stimulate tissue regeneration.

The best approach by far is to prevent gum disease, the ultimate cause for a furcation involvement. You can reduce your chances of gum disease by brushing and flossing daily to remove disease-causing plaque. Regular dental cleanings and checkups, at least every six months, help round out this prevention strategy.

A furcation involvement could ultimately endanger a tooth's survival. We can stop that from happening—but we'll have to act promptly to achieve the best results.

If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “What are Furcations?

Gum Disease Is More Common Than You Think

Do your gums bleed when your brush or floss? Are your teeth feeling more sensitive than usual? If so, your gums may be trying to tell you something. Their message is that you may have gum disease. Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, affects around 50 percent of Americans who are aged 30 or older. If you think you’re one of them, you should get medical advice as soon as possible. Dr. Charles L. Sours, Jr. is a Woodbridge-based dentist who can help treat your gum disease.

What Causes Gum Disease

Your mouth contains a lot of bacteria. Over time, the bacteria create a thin, sticky film on your teeth, called plaque. You can get rid of plaque by brushing and flossing regularly. If the plaque is allowed to build up, it will eventually turn to tartar. Tartar is a hardened form of plaque that can only be removed by your dentist.

To prevent plaque build-up, you need to brush your teeth regularly and make regular dental visits for descaling (plaque removal) to prevent plaque build-up and gum inflammation. Gum disease has two stages. These are:


Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Gums that are purple or bright red
  • Sensitive gums
  • Bleeding when flossing or brushing
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Inflamed gums
  • Soft gums
  • receding gums


Signs and symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Swollen gums
  • Gums that are painful to the touch
  • Bleeding gums
  • Puss between the teeth and gums

Can Gum Disease be Treated?

When gum disease is caught in the early stage (gingivitis), it can be treated and eliminated. This will help prevent tooth loss and other complications. If you think you may be dealing with gum disease, you should make an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to treat.

If you live in or around Woodbridge, VA, call Dr. Sours today on (703) 491-2131 for a check on your dental health and all your other dental needs.

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
June 14, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: gum disease   oral hygiene   pregnancy  

For a healthy pregnancy, it helps to have healthy teeth and gums. In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) encourages its members to advise expectant moms to see their dentist. But maintaining oral health can be more challenging when you’re expecting. For one thing, hormonal changes make you more susceptible to periodontal (gum) disease, which has been linked to “systemic” (general body) health problems including preterm labor and low birth weight.

Periodontal (gum) disease results from the buildup of bacterial plaque on tooth surfaces in the absence of good oral hygiene. It typically starts as gingivitis — inflammation and redness around the gum margins and bleeding when brushing and flossing. If the infection progresses, it can attack the structures supporting the teeth (gums, ligaments, and bone) and may eventually result in tooth loss. And if the infection enters the bloodstream, it can pose health risks elsewhere in the body. Studies suggest that oral bacteria and their byproducts are able to cross the placenta and trigger an inflammatory response in the mother, which may in turn induce early labor.

TLC for Your Oral Environment

Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and flossing or using another interdental cleaner at least once daily is your first-line defense again bacteria buildup. Professional cleanings are also important to remove hardened plaque (calculus) that brushing and flossing may miss. And regular checkups can catch problems early to avoid or minimize adverse effects. Periodontal disease and tooth decay aren’t always painful or the pain may subside, so you won’t always know there’s a problem.

Dental emergencies such as cavities, root canals and tooth fractures should be treated promptly to address pain and infection, thereby reducing stress to the developing fetus. Of course, if you know you need a cavity filled or a root canal prior to becoming pregnant, that’s the optimal time to get treated!

If you would like more information about dental care during pregnancy, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about the subject by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Pregnancy and Oral Health.”

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
March 04, 2017
Category: Oral Health

Are bleeding gums something you should be concerned about? Dear Doctor magazine recently posed that question to Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician and host of the syndicated TV show The Doctors. He answered with two questions of his own: “If you started bleeding from your eyeball, would you seek medical attention?” Needless to say, most everyone would. “So,” he asked, “why is it that when we bleed all the time when we floss that we think it’s no big deal?” As it turns out, that’s an excellent question — and one that’s often misunderstood.

First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by “bleeding all the time.” As many as 90 percent of people occasionally experience bleeding gums when they clean their teeth — particularly if they don’t do it often, or are just starting a flossing routine. But if your gums bleed regularly when you brush or floss, it almost certainly means there’s a problem. Many think bleeding gums is a sign they are brushing too hard; this is possible, but unlikely. It’s much more probable that irritated and bleeding gums are a sign of periodontal (gum) disease.

How common is this malady? According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of all  Americans over age 30 have mild, moderate or severe gum disease — and that number increases to 70.1 percent for those over 65! Periodontal disease can occur when a bacteria-rich biofilm in the mouth (also called plaque) is allowed to build up on tooth and gum surfaces. Plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, as the immune system responds to the bacteria. Eventually, this can cause gum tissue to pull away from the teeth, forming bacteria-filled “pockets” under the gum surface. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious infection, and even tooth loss.

What should you do if your gums bleed regularly when brushing or flossing? The first step is to come in for a thorough examination. In combination with a regular oral exam (and possibly x-rays or other diagnostic tests), a simple (and painless) instrument called a periodontal probe can be used to determine how far any periodontal disease may have progressed. Armed with this information, we can determine the most effective way to fight the battle against gum disease.

Above all, don’t wait too long to come in for an exam! As Dr. Stork notes, bleeding gums are “a sign that things aren’t quite right.”  If you would like more information about bleeding gums, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine article “Bleeding Gums.” You can read the entire interview with Dr. Travis Stork in Dear Doctor magazine.

By Charles L. Sours, Jr. D.D.S.
July 18, 2016
Category: Dental Procedures
Tags: gum disease   periodontics  

Don’t ignore your gums. They are an integral part of your oral health.

Sure it’s important to have white, radiant teeth that are free of decay but remember that throughout your oral care routine you should alsogum disease include your gums. Healthy gums are just as important as having healthy teeth, and if you want to get a great report the next time you visit your Woodbridge, VA dentist Dr. Charles L. Sours then you’ll want to find out how to maintain healthy gums.

Bacteria is the Bad Guy

Unhealthy gums are often due to a bacterial buildup that causes gum disease or gingivitis (the early reversible stage of gum disease). Bacterial buildup (also known as plaque) can lead to gum inflammation and tenderness. When plaque isn’t removed through regular brushing and flossing it hardens on teeth and turns to tartar, which your at-home toothbrush isn’t tough enough to remove (only your Woodbridge dentist will be able to remove tartar buildup during your six-month cleanings).

Of course, there are other issues that play a role in whether or not you develop gum disease including:

  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Smoking
  • Medications
  • Poor nutrition
  • Obesity
  • Teeth grinding

Why Gum Disease is Serious

While we can all agree that healthy gums mean a healthy smile, having unhealthy gums may also indicate a more serious health issue. In fact, research has found a link between gum disease and health problems like heart disease, stroke, respiratory disorders, and diabetes, to name a few. So in many ways, the state of your gums could be warning you of more serious systemic health problems.

Warning Signs to Look for

There are several ways to determine whether your gums are healthy enough or whether it’s time to come into our office for a consultation. Common symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Red and inflamed gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Gums that are receding
  • Loose permanent teeth
  • Changes to your bite
  • Bad breath (halitosis)

As you may have just realized, healthy gums are an important part of your general health, too. If you are experiencing redness, swelling or other issues with your gums it’s time you came into our Woodbridge, VA dental office for care. Keep your gums looking their best and you’ll have a healthy smile for life.