Ask Dr. Smith – What is Periodontal Disease?
You know that regular dental check-ups and at-home dental care are vital to your oral health, but we’ve found that many people may not know much about one of the most common dental issues – periodontal disease or gum disease. It’s important to understand this issue and be able to spot the warning signs to reverse damage before the problem becomes more severe.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. Attacking just below the gum line, bacteria can begin breaking down the tissues that support the tooth and develop a pocket where more bacteria can collect. Classified into two stages, gingivitis is a milder, reversible form of periodontal disease affecting only the gums while periodontitis is more destructive and can lead to tooth loss.
Are You At Risk?
There are several other factors that can lead to periodontal disease.
- Genetic susceptibility- the way your body responds to bacteria
- Exposure to certain types of bacteria
- Inadequate home care- not flossing and brushing effectively
- Inadequate or infrequent professional cleanings
- Tobacco smoking or chewing
- Systemic diseases such as diabetes
- Some types of medication such as steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
- Dental work such as crowns or bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Malocclusion or a bad bite
- Fillings that have become defective
- Menopause, pregnancy or use of oral contraceptives
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
What Your Dentist Or Dental Hygienist Will Notice
- Bone loss on your x-rays
- Bleeding on periodontal probing
- Measurements of 4 or greater mm. on periodontal probing
- Mobility of your teeth
However, it is possible to have periodontal disease and have no warning signs. That is just one reason why regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are very important. There are a variety of treatment options available including root planing and scaling, a non-surgical procedure that removes the extensive plaque buildup aggravating your gums. For more severe cases, we recommend locally administered antibiotic such as ARESTIN in addition to the root planing and scaling or laser gum treatment and can help you find a Boston-area specialist for the highest quality treatment.
For more information, schedule a consultation today to discuss your treatment options.