Did you know that detecting gum disease in the early stages makes it the most effectively and economically treated? This is true for many oral health issues. As a periodontist, our team specializes in the areas of the mouth that surround and support your teeth – your gums, bone and connective tissues. These are the parts that attach your teeth to your smile! Our goal is to support your oral health by diagnosing and treating any issues you might have with those supportive structures of your teeth.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
Since periodontal (gum) disease is a broad term describing a group of diseases resulting in loss of attachment of the gum, connecting tissues and bone to the teeth, you might be wondering, how does periodontal disease come about? It is typically caused by the bacterial oral biofilm that builds up around your teeth when you neglect your daily oral hygiene care (brushing and flossing) because of how your body’s immune system reacts to it.
Did you know that almost half of the adult US population has destructive periodontal disease? And that’s not all! Periodontal disease is also linked to other systemic diseases, including the following:
-Coronary artery disease
-Heart attack and disease
So how do you know if you have periodontal (gum) disease? You might need treatment if you find yourself with the following:
-Your smile is losing periodontal attachment (that supportive bone below your teeth)
-Bleeding when you brush or floss
-Redness and inflammation of the gum margins
-Persistent bad taste or breath
-You have abscesses
-Loose or shifting teeth
In the early-to-moderate stages of periodontal disease, the goal is to help you learn how to reclaim your oral health. It all begins in the home, where you need to make sure you brush and floss consistently every day so you can control the development of harmful daily biofilm (plaque). This daily routine will need to be combined with thorough professional teeth cleaning (called scaling and root planing, or root debridement). The further along periodontal disease advances could mean that you may even require occlusal (bite) treatment and/or surgical treatment.
Signs to look out for that will need treatment:
1. A changing of your bite pattern or how your teeth feel when you chew: This can be caused when your tooth enamel weakens and wears down, leaving you with cracks or chips in your teeth.
2. Receding gums: This happens as your gums recede or pull back from the top of your teeth, exposing the tooth root. This can leave you with bacterial infections and ultimately, tooth loss.
3. Loose teeth: This sign of advanced gum disease comes from waiting too long to treat the disease and can ultimately mean losing teeth.
4. Pain or discomfort in your gums: There’s no reason to tolerate pain as it generally doesn’t go away without proper treatment. Waiting too long can leave you with poor gums and loose teeth.
5. Sensitivity to hot and cold temperature extremes: This is a sign of progressive gum recession that could end up in serious gum infection.
6. You’ve never been to a periodontist: Preventative care is always optimal, followed by early treatment for the disease. Seeing a periodontist will allow us to examine your gums, looking for gum pockets, how firmly your teeth are positioned and how symmetrical your bite is. Taking dental X-rays can help us assess your bone structure and density. If you do have gum disease, treatment might involve cosmetic gum surgery, periodontitis, or replacing your missing teeth.
Since gum disease can leave you with tooth loss and even other systemic health issues, we urge you to schedule a visit with our periodontist if you have any lingering concerns about your gums. This new year is a great time to assess your oral health and address problems early for optimal success. Your smile deserves to be healthy and strong!