It is entirely possible that gum disease can progress without causing you any pain or detectable symptoms. That is why it is so important to ensure that you schedule regular dental checkups. When there are symptoms that present themselves, it’s important to seek the advice of a dentist or periodontist as soon as possible. Here are some of the common signs and symptoms.
- Unexplained bleeding – If you’re experiencing bleeding when flossing, brushing, or eating food, that’s one of the most common symptoms that you have a periodontal infection. The toxins from plaque can cause a bacterial infection making the tissues of your gums prone to bleeding.
- Pain, redness or swelling – Gum infection may be present if your gums are swollen, red, or in pain for no apparent reason. It’s important to stop the progression of the infection before the infection spreads into the bloodstream or other areas of the body.
- Longer-looking teeth – Gum recession is a common sign that periodontal disease is present in your mouth. Because bacteria’s toxins can destroy supportive tissue and bones, the smile appears more “toothy” and teeth look longer.
- Bad breath/halitosis – While bad breath can originate in the lungs, stomach, back of the tongue, tobacco use, or food consumed, it can also be caused by old food particles that are hanging out between the teeth and underneath your gum line.
- Loose teeth/change in bite pattern – If you’re experiencing aggressive and rapidly progressing periodontitis, you may find that your teeth are loosening or shifting in the affected area. When the bone tissue is destroyed, teeth that were once attached firmly become loose or can shift in position.
- Pus – If you see pus oozing from between teeth, that’s a definitive sign that there is a periodontal infection in progress. This pus is created as a result of your body trying to fight the bacterial infection.
We diagnose periodontal disease during a periodontal examination as part of your regular checkup. We use a periodontal probe to measure the pocket or space between the tooth and the gums. A healthy pocket area does not bleed and is three millimeters or less. The probe can indicate if pockets are deeper; as periodontal disease progresses, the pockets become deeper. Once we have measured depths, the amount of bleeding, inflammation, mobility, etc., we can make a diagnosis. It will fall into one of the below categories:
- Gingivitis – This is the first stage of periodontal disease. Plaque and toxic by-products irritate the gums, making them tender, likely to bleed, and inflamed.
- Periodontitis – This is when plaque hardens into tartar. As tarter and plaque build up, the gums begin to recede from the teeth. Pus and bacteria fill deeper pockets that form between the gums and teeth. The gums are very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. There may be slight to moderate bone loss present.
- Advanced Periodontitis – More support for the teeth is lost as the bone, gums, and periodontal ligament continues to be destroyed. If periodontitis is not treated, the affected teeth may be lost as they become very loose. Moderate to severe bone loss may be present.
The treatment you receive will depend upon the type and severity of the gum disease that presents itself. We will evaluate for periodontal disease and recommend appropriate treatments when necessary. If we can catch the disease in the early stages of gingivitis, and there is no damage, we will recommend one or two regular cleanings as well as instructions on how to improve daily oral hygiene habits. If, on the other hand, the disease has progressed into more advanced stages, we have a special periodontal cleaning called scaling and root planing. First, we numb the area to be cleaned. Next, the cleaning is performed one quadrant of the mouth at a time. During this procedure, we remove toxins, plaque, and tartar from above and below the gum line as well as smooth out rough spots on root surfaces. This helps the gum tissue to heal and pockets to shrink. We may also recommend medication, medicated mouth rinses, or an electric toothbrush to help control the infection and promote healing.
If pockets do not heal following our treatment, we may need to schedule periodontal surgery to reduce pocket depths and make your teeth easier to clean. We may also recommend you see a periodontist for follow up treatment.
Did you realize that it takes only 24 hours for plaque not cleaned from your teeth to turn into tartar? When you clean your teeth daily at home, it helps to control the formation of plaque and tartar. Once we have completed your periodontal treatment, we will recommend regular maintenance cleanings four times a year. At these appointments, we will check your pocket depths to ensure that they are healthy. We will also remove any plaque and tartar from above and below your gum line that you find difficult to remove on a daily basis. In addition to receiving a cleaning and evaluation at these appointments, we will also provide the following:
- Examination of diagnostic x-rays for the detection of decay, tumors, cysts, and bone loss. We also use x-rays to help determine tooth and root positions.
- Examination of any existing restorations – We’ll check your current fillings, crowns, etc. to ensure they are still in place.
- Examination of all surfaces to check for tooth decay
- Oral cancer screening – we’ll check your face, neck, lips, tongue, throat, cheek tissues, and gums for any signs of oral cancer.
- Oral hygiene recommendations – We will review and recommend oral hygiene aids as needed.
- Teeth polishing – We will remove stains and plaque that is not otherwise removed during tooth brushing and scaling.
- It is essential to maintain good oral hygiene practices in order to maintain good dental health and keep periodontal disease under control.