What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease, is an infection of the gum tissue supporting your teeth. Periodontal disease attacks your gums just below the gum line, causing the tissue to break down. If left untreated, gum disease can result in infections and ultimately tooth loss. Additionally, severe untreated gum disease can increase your risk of other health conditions.If you are suffering from a toothache, it is possible that you have a dental cavity, but many patients are unaware that they are equally in danger of periodontal disease. If your gums are in poor condition and you do not seek treatment, you may develop a periodontal disease which can lead to a periodontal abscess.
What Are Early Warning Signs Of Periodontal Disease?
The early warning signs of gingivitis and periodontal disease are easy to miss. You must look for them regularly and see your dentist every six months. Your dentist has the training and experience to look for signs that you may miss as you observe your teeth and gums every day. If you notice any of the following, schedule a visit to our office as soon as possible:
- Persistent bad breath
- Swollen, puffy gums
- Red or purple gums
- Gum recession that looks like gums pulling away from teeth or elongated teeth
- Bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth
- Pain when you brush or chew
- Changes in the feel of your teeth when you bite or chew
- Noticeably loose teeth
- Visible pus around one or more teeth
Causes Of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is most often caused by the buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a filmy substance composed of bacteria. Over time, the plaque that is not removed from your teeth by brushing and flossing will harden and become tartar. If tartar builds up below the gum line, it can cause inflammation or infection, which ultimately becomes a gum disease.
Hormonal changes, illnesses such as cancer, HIV or diabetes, smoking, and having poor dental hygiene habits can also contribute to the development of gum disease. Some patients even have a genetic predisposition and are more likely to develop periodontal disease than other patients.
Symptoms Of Gum Disease
The early stages of gum disease are often painless and lack any obvious warning signs. As a result, it is important to visit our Drs of Smiles dentists twice a year for your regular checkups. We can diagnose and treat any periodontal disease you may experience while it is still in its early stages. As your gum disease becomes more severe, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Bleeding gums
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Receding gum line
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums
- Changes in the way the teeth fit together when biting
- Changes in bite strength and tension
- Chronic bad breath
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Persistent bad taste in the mouth
- Changes in tooth color
Your gums play a crucial role in your oral health and if they start bleeding it is generally a sign that there is a serious problem with the delicate tissue surrounding your teeth. Your gums provide support to the teeth at the place where they emerge from the jaw bone and provide a seal around your teeth which prevents food and other debris from causing infection below the gum line.
What Causes Bleeding Gums?
The most common cause of bleeding gums is poor oral hygiene. Drs. LeSeuer and Dodaro can diagnose the cause of your condition and provide the proper treatment before gum disease jeopardizes your long-term oral health. Besides gum disease, there could be other potential causes of bleeding gums including:
- Brushing too hard
- Improper flossing technique
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Hormonal changes during pregnancy
- Eating coarse food items
- Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura
- Vitamin K deficiency
- Use of blood thinners
Bleeding Gums Treatment
Bleeding gums are generally a sign that you are not caring for them properly. The first step in preventing or treating bleeding gums is to brush and floss regularly, making sure you do so thoroughly but gently. If your bleeding gums are caused by an infection or inflammation of the gum tissue, you must eliminate the source of the bacteria causing this infection. In cases of serious infections, you may require antibiotics.
If you are unable to stop your gums from bleeding by maintaining thorough oral hygiene practices and getting 6-month checkups and cleanings, it may be a sign that a more serious condition is developing. You should then schedule an appointment with our Mesa dentists at once so that we can evaluate your gums and recommend the appropriate periodontal treatment to address the condition.
Periodontal Disease Stages
There are two stages of periodontal disease including gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and consists of an inflammation of the gums. During this phase, no irreversible bone or tissue damage has occurred. Patients can treat gingivitis with regular brushing and flossing.
What Is A Periodontal Abscess?
An abscess is a pocket filled with bacteria and pus which can form under the gum tissue either between the gums and the root of your tooth or your jaw bone. Sometimes an abscess can form between your tooth’s root and the jaw bone tissue. Periodontal abscesses are often painful and many times require surgery once they have developed. Periodontal abscesses do not form overnight, but rather develop as a result of neglected or unhealthy gums which develop gum disease that goes untreated. If caught early enough, patients and dentists can prevent gum disease, keeping abscesses from having a chance to form.
Periodontal Abscess Symptoms
The symptoms of a periodontal abscess are similar to gum disease, but maybe more severe and include:
- Pain at the base of teeth or in gums
- Food stuck between teeth
- Bad taste or bad breath
- Bleeding gums and infectious drainage
- Heavy plaque and tartar
- Gum inflammation and discoloration
- Sore or loose teeth
Why Is A Periodontal Abscess Dangerous?
Periodontal abscesses and gum disease endanger more than your gums. They can be the cause of tooth loss, gum recession, and damaged jaw bone tissue. But more importantly, a periodontal abscess or gum disease that is allowed to progress or is left untreated for very long can complicate or worsen systemic problems, such as heart and blood vessel disease, respiratory problems, swallowing complications, and infection and fever including Septicemia. Periodontal abscesses in children can be very severe and may not be easily diagnosed. If your child is suffering from a toothache or gum tenderness, you should schedule a dental appointment immediately.
How Can Periodontal Disease Be Prevented?
Periodontal disease is a prevalent and concerning condition. However, patients must understand that they can avoid inflammation and infection by following a few simple steps. If you want to prevent periodontal disease, we suggest the following:
- Brush your teeth. Two minutes twice a day every day. Use fluoride toothpaste and gentle pressure to remove debris from all surfaces of your teeth and tongue. If you have questions about proper brushing technique, talk to your dentist or hygienist. We are happy to demonstrate how you can achieve the best results from your daily habits.
- Floss every day. You can floss before or after you brush. It is helpful to floss before bed because doing so removes debris from food and bacteria that has accumulated throughout the day. Like brushing, flossing is a dental health task that your dentist or hygienist can help you perform properly.
- Use mouthwash. Talk to your dentist about the best mouthwash for your unique situation.
- See your dentist regularly. Twice a year dental visits should include a full exam and cleaning. These allow you and your dentist to identify risks to your teeth and gums and address them with suggestions that apply to your lifestyle and risk factors.
At What Point Should I Seek Medical Attention For Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease can lead to significant health concerns. We recommend that you schedule an appointment to address gum inflammation and infection as soon as symptoms are noticed. Even better, don’t wait for symptoms to alert you to a problem. Follow your dentist’s advice regarding brushing, flossing, and maintaining regular checkups and cleanings. Periodontal disease does not have to be inevitable. It is a preventable problem, and we are here to help you avoid it.
We are committed to making dental care palatable for all of our patients. Periodontal disease requires prompt, proper, and ongoing treatment to prevent unnecessary damage. When addressing this disease, we prioritize comfort by administering a local anesthetic before commencing with any procedure. Even the injections of local anesthesia can be made easier by first applying a topical numbing gel to the gums. Injections are then quick and virtually painless. Once the local anesthetic has been administered, it takes only a few minutes for the treatment area to become numb. During periodontal treatment, patients can be completely comfortable.
If you are nervous about receiving necessary periodontal care, talk to your dentist. We offer options for sedation that can quickly and effectively soothe anxiety related to your dental procedure.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Treatment for periodontal disease may vary depending on the severity of your condition. The most modern treatments are the combination of ultrasonic and hand scaling and root planning and the use of diode lasers. The ultrasonic and hand instrument scaling and root planning are a deep cleaning procedure where plaque and tartar are scraped away from above and below the gum line and rough spots on the roots of your teeth are smoothed out. The Diode laser then removes the unhealthy tissue, killing bacteria, and promoting healing. All these procedures are done with the use of topical anesthetics which make these treatments virtually painless. In some cases, antibiotics may be used to treat infections present deeper in your gum tissue.
In severe cases of periodontal disease, patients may require surgery to treat the condition. Surgical options include:
- Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery
- Bone grafts
- Soft tissue grafts
- Guided tissue regeneration
- Bone surgery
What Are The Risks Of Leaving Periodontal Disease Untreated?
When patients allow the periodontal disease to continue progressing bone necrosis, tooth loss, and significant oral health problems may occur. Gum disease also increases your risk of:
- A heart attack or stroke
- Kidney and liver damage
- Respiratory illnesses
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s
- Pregnancy complications
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an incurable condition that can cause irreversible damage to the gums and jawbone. Once you develop periodontal disease, you will always have it. All stages of periodontal disease require ongoing management via daily habits and professional dental services. The extent of professional care is dependent on the severity of infection and bone involvement, the stability of teeth, and your commitment to daily care.
It is critical that we detect periodontal inflammation as soon as possible to prevent infection from creating further damage in the deeper structures that support teeth. Even if you do not have symptoms of gingivitis or gum disease, you should see your dentist for regular comprehensive exams, x-rays, and cleanings.
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Dr. Scott LeSueur, Dr. Glenn LeSueur, and Dr. Charles Dodaro are Mesa dentists, serving Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, and other East Valley Cities in Arizona, combine LVI training and state-of-the-art technology to bring you, and your entire family, the very best and healthiest cosmetic and neuromuscular dental care.