Periodontal disease is a slow moving, progressive dental disease that can slowly sneak up on us. Many ignore the warning signs simply because many of them are painless. It is important to recognize these warning signs and symptoms as periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. There are many different types of periodontal disease including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases. Each of these types of periodontal disease has its own distinct characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt treatment by a dentist to help halt subsequent bone and gum tissue loss.
Common Periodontal Disease Signs And Symptoms
–Bleeding Upon Brushing, Flossing, Or Eating. This is one of the most common signs that periodontal disease is active. It is often also one of the most overlooked signs. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. As the bacteria and toxins build up in the mouth, the body responds by activating the inflammatory process, rushing our cells to stop the attack. This will cause the gum tissues to become inflamed and red. It is important to note that bleeding gums can also be something more sinister like leukemia and blood platelet disorders.
–Unexplained Pain Or Swelling. This can be caused by a periodontal infection. At this point it is essential that you get to a dentist as soon as possible. If the infection is left unchecked it will cause damage to the gum tissues and the bone supporting your teeth. It can also be carried to other parts of the body through the blood stream.
-Persistent Bad Breath (Halitosis). Bad breath can occur from many things but peristent bad breath can mean progressive periodontal disease . As the gum tissues are destroyed, the areas where the oral bacteria can flourish will increase causing a foul odor in the mouth. There are other causes of chronic halitosis that should also be ruled out.
-Change In Your Smile Or Loose Teeth. As periodontal disease advances, your teeth will loosen and shift out of position. This will effect the way your teeth fit together and even alter your smile.
-Teeth Become Longer In Appearance. As periodontal disease progresses it will lead to destruction of the bone and gum tissues. This will show up as gum recession. Once the gum tissues pull back they expose more of the tooth and root, making them appear longer than before.
–Pus Drainage. This goes along with the periodontal infection mentioned previously. An active periodontal infection will create pus which can ooze out from between the teeth and gums causing a bad taste and malodor.
Avoiding Periodontal Disease
Dental and Periodontal Examinations
Your dentist will complete a thorough examination with x-rays and periodontal charting. Notations about the visual condition of the gum tissue will also be recorded. In its earliest stages the gum tissue is usually red, puffy, and painless or slightly tender at this point. Plaque and tartar will more than likely be present to some degree. A periodontal probe will be used to measure around the teeth to see if your periodontal disease has progressed and to what degree. It is important to note that once bone loss has occurred you now have a more advanced form of periodontal disease.
Following the examination, your dentist will recommend a course of treatment for your periodontal disease. This will include a professional cleaning along with extra home care instructions. The goal in treatment is to reduce the inflammation and not allow progression of the disease. An antibacterial rinse (example, Listerine) may also be recommended for at home use. Your dentist may also recommend repair of misaligned or crooked teeth to aid you in your home care efforts. Your dentist may also recommend a more frequent schedule(every 4-6 months) to control your periodontal disease.
Following removal of plaque and tartar, bleeding and tenderness of the gums should begin to subside within 1-2 weeks after professional cleaning and careful dental hygiene. Warm salt water or antibacterial rinses can also reduce gum inflammation. Taking an over the counter anti inflammatory medication can also aid in pain and inflammation reduction.
Healthy gums should look pink and firm with no bleeding upon brushing, flossing, or eating. Good oral hygiene must be maintained for your whole life, or periodontal disease will come back and possibly advance past the gingivitis form into advanced periodontal disease (also called periodontitis).
Steps to prevent periodontal disease should include:
-Routine dental visits. Usually recommended every 3- 6 months for examination and professional cleaning.
-Brushing after every meal and flossing at least once a day.
-Rinsing with an antiseptic rinse as recommended by your dentist.
Consult your physician if the bleeding is severe or chronic, gums continue to bleed even after dental treatment, or you have other unexplained symptoms along with the bleeding from your gums. These could all be the sign of a more serious condition than periodontal disease and should be checked out as soon as possible.
Periodontal Disease Conclusion
Periodontal Disease in its beginning stage is very treatable and should be easily controlled. Keeping periodontal disease from progressing to more advanced stages should be your goal. It takes a regular effort by both you and your dentist but it can be done. Getting control of periodontal disease will not only help your overall health, but will keep you smiling!