Most of the time, we think that getting a cavity is the worst thing that could happen to our teeth. While this may be true for many patients, it certainly isn’t the case all the time. As Temecula dentist K. Pat Brown, DDS, estimated, as many as 4 out of every 5 patients have some form of periodontal disease (or gum disease), often without even realizing it.
Luckily for that 80%, as dentists have discovered more and more patients with gum disease, they’ve also developed a variety of ways to treat it. For you as the patient, knowing the basics about the symptoms of periodontitis as well as common treatment options can help you become a more proactive dental patient.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
So, what is gum disease anyways? In a very basic sense, gum disease is to the gums what cavities are to the teeth in the sense that both oral health issues have the same cause: bacteria. With tooth decay, this harmful bacteria impacts the mouth by burrowing into the teeth, but with gum disease, the bacteria infiltrates and infects the gums instead, causing a wide variety of potential symptoms (described below).
Most of the time, the infection is caught within the early stages and promptly treated, meaning that the gum disease doesn’t ever progress out of its mildest stage, called gingivitis. Dentists typically reverse inflammation of this size and scope by simply clearing the gum areas of any plaque buildup and instructing the patient to floss more carefully. These preventative measures typically are enough to return a patient to his or her former state of health.
Left unnoticed and untreated, though, the problem can grow worse and the infection can progress into periodontitis. The most serious form of gum disease, periodontitis denotes a bacterial infection that has completely set into the gums and that can have negative effect on the tooth, gums, and even jawbone in the area. Because of the severity of the disease, if you experience the symptoms described below, you should immediately contact a dentist.
What Are The Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is especially worrisome because, unlike many other infections, it can often progress in a pain-free way. The infection affects every patient differently, and can easily be misdiagnosed by a layperson. However, a couple of trends do emerge. Most patients with periodontal disease frequently experience one or more of the following:
- Bleeding Gums. Blood is almost always a bad sign. Some bleeding is normal with mild gingivitis, but a persistent and repeated blood flow that does not improve over time is always cause to call a dentist.
- Red and Swollen Gums. If your gums are tender to the touch and sensitive to temperature changes, then your mouth is probably telling you that something is wrong.
- Tender Gums. If you notice that your teeth seem longer or feel looser, it’s probably because your gums have receded. Periodontitis can cause the gums to draw back as your body fights the infection and is one of the most easily detectable symptoms of gum disease.
- Receding Gums. Bacteria doesn’t come without its own traits, and one of those is a foul odor. Of course, bad breath (halitosis) can be a problem on its own, but if you find that traditional solutions to halitosis aren’t working, then it may be a sign that another factor is at play.
- Persistent Bad Breath. Advanced periodontitis can cause the jawbone to lose mass, and one potential consequence of that is the shifting of teeth in the mouth as the supporting base for the teeth moves.
- Movement of Teeth (e.g. new spacings).
Again, if you find yourself constantly experiencing any of these symptoms, you should probably visit your dentist as soon as possible. Even if gum disease isn’t the cause, the described symptoms are never good signs and could be indicative of other oral health issues.
How Can Periodontal Disease be Treated in Temecula, CA?
Once your dentist accurately diagnoses periodontal disease, he or she can go ahead and proceed with the periodontal treatment. In most cases, what this means is that you need to undergo a deep cleaning procedure called “root planing and scaling”.
This dental procedure is essentially a more intense version of the regular cleaning you get at your biannual checkup. To clear the area of harmful bacteria, your dentist will numb the gums and meticulously scrape away any signs of bacteria that have gathered below the gumline, in between the gum and the tooth root. The root will then be smoothed down to prevent future food and plaque from sticking there. Antibiotics will likely be prescribed both for oral use and for physical application over the area.
If you think you have periodontal disease, you should consult with K. Pat Brown, DDS, Inc. to see what services are available to you. You can always contact the dentists at K. Pat Brown, DDS, to schedule a checkup! Just call (951) 695-6269 or visit our website to set up a time to visit our office.