Periodontal disease (also
known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a progressive condition and
the leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults in the developed world.
Periodontal disease occurs when the toxins found in plaque begin to
irritate or inflame the gingiva (gum tissue). The resulting bacterial
infection often known as gingivitis, can eventually lead to the
destruction of the gum tissue and underlying bone. If periodontal
disease is not treated, it can also lead to loose teeth or tooth loss.
There are many common 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 halt subsequent bone and tissue loss.
Common Signs & Symptoms
It is extremely important to
note that periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms
such as pain. This is why regular dental checkups are exceptionally
important. Described below are some of the most common signs and
symptoms of periodontitis.
If you have any of these signs
or symptoms, the advice of a general dentist or periodontist should be
sought as soon as possible:
– Bleeding when brushing, flossing or eating food is one of the most
common symptoms of a periodontal infection. The toxins in plaque cause a
bacterial infection which makes the tissues prone to bleeding.
Pain, redness or swelling
– A periodontal infection may be present if the gums are swollen, red
or painful for no apparent reason. It is essential to halt the
progression of the infection before the gum tissue and jaw bone have
been affected. It is also critical to treat the infection before it is
carried into the bloodstream to other areas of the body.
– Periodontal disease can lead to gum recession. The toxins produced
by bacteria can destroy the supporting tissue and bones, thus making the
teeth look longer and the smile appear more “toothy.”
– Although breath odor can originate from back of the tongue, the lungs
and stomach, from the food we consume, or from tobacco use, bad breath
may be caused by old food particles which sit between the teeth and
underneath the gumline. The deeper gum pockets are able to house more
debris and bacteria, causing a foul odor.
Loose teeth/change in bite pattern
– A sign of rapidly progressing periodontitis is the loosening or
shifting of the teeth in the affected area. As the bone tissue gets
destroyed, teeth that were once firmly attached to the jawbone become
loose or may shift in position.
Pus oozing from between the teeth is a definitive sign that a
periodontal infection is in progress. The pus is a result of the body
trying to fight the bacterial infection.
Treatment of Periodontal Disease
It is of paramount importance
to halt the progression of periodontal disease before it causes further
damage to the gum tissues and jawbone. The dentist will initially
assess the whole mouth in order to ascertain the progress of the
disease. When a diagnosis has been made, the dentist may treat the
bacterial infection with antibiotics in conjunction with nonsurgical or
surgical treatment or both.
In the case of moderate
periodontal disease, the pockets (under the gumline) of the teeth will
be completely cleared of debris using a procedure called scaling and
root planing. The pockets may be filled with antibiotics to promote
good healing and kill any bacteria that remain.
Severe periodontitis can be treated in several different ways, such as:
Laser treatment – This can be used to reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and the gums.
Tissue & bone grafting
– Where a considerable amount of bone or gum tissue has been destroyed,
the dentist may elect to graft new tissue by inserting a membrane to
stimulate tissue growth.
Pocket elimination surgery – The dentist may choose to perform “flap surgery” to directly reduce the size of the gum pockets.
If you have any further questions about the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, please ask your dentist.
You are welcome to schedule an appointment today!