Periodontal Disease

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What is it?

Periodontal disease is also commonly referred to as gum disease. It commonly starts as a milder form of gingivitis which is when there is bacteria growth on the inside of your mouth and gums. In the early stages, the gums will appear swollen and red. In some cases, there may also be blood. When the disease progresses from gingivitis, it is often referred to as periodontal disease. WebMD states that when the disease has increased in severity, the bone and gums will pull away from the teeth which may cause them to fall out.

Causes

Plaque build up is one of the most common causes of periodontal disease. Plaque tends to form when there is a prolonged period of bacterial build up on the teeth.

When plaque hardens to form tartar, it can spread below the gum line. Since this makes it much harder to clean, it is often the beginning of gum disease.
Smoking is also believed to greatly increase your risk of gum disease. Women may also be more susceptible to the disease since hormonal changes during menstruation and pregnancy cause the gums to become more sensitive which allows gingivitis to develop easier.

Certain illnesses can also affect the health of your gums and make it easier to develop gum disease. Individuals with cancer or HIV may be at higher risk of developing periodontal disease because of the effect that the primary diseases have on the immune system.

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Symptoms

As periodontal disease and gingivitis usually develop with no pain, it can be difficult to detect gum disease. WebMD warns that the presence of blood after brushing your teeth can indicate that you have some type of gum disease. This may sometimes be accompanied by swollen gums that appear to be red. In addition, bad breath that is not the result of poor dental hygiene may also be a sign of gum disease.

Periodontal disease can often be detected by loose teeth or by experiencing pain while chewing on food. In addition, receding gums are often a symptom that is easier to detect. In general, any sign of inflammation of the gums should always be brought to the attention of your dentist or healthcare provider.

Diagnosis

Since dentists are trained to spot the early signs of gum disease, they will often detect it long before you begin to notice any of the signs of symptoms. Because of this, it is important to have regular checkups with a dentist to clean your teeth and examine your gums.

Once periodontal disease has been detected, your dentist will often refer you to a periodontist who is a specialist in diagnosing and treating gum disease. X-rays will often be taken in order to determine whether or not there is any loss of bone.

Your family’s medical history may also play a role in your diagnosis since it is believed that genetics may play a role in contracting gum disease. In addition, your gums will also be inspected to ensure that there are no signs of inflammation.

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Treatment

There are many different treatment options for periodontal disease. Dentists will often scrape any traces of tartar around the gum line. In some instances, a laser will be used in order to achieve this. In addition, they may also remove spots on the tooth that tend to attract germs.

If the disease has spread significantly, surgery may be required. However, in some cases prescription drugs may be sufficient. Flap surgery is a very common type of surgery where the gums are lifted back to remove the tartar buildup. In cases where the gum disease has caused significant bone loss, a synthetic bone may also be inserted.

However, surgery is often only used for more extreme cases. For milder forms of gum disease, your dentist may prescribe a medicated mouth wash or topical gel.