Periodontal diseases are a range of gum conditions that may include inflammation and/or infections that may cause serious bleeding, pain, and swelling of the gums. If periodontal diseases are left untreated, they may lead to gums beginning to pull away from the teeth, causing more opportunities for bacteria to infiltrate the sensitive areas of the mouth and may eventually lead to the deterioration and lose of teeth and bone over time.
This is why it is extremely important to recognize the signs of periodontal diseases and act quickly with your dentist to address any issues right away.
Stages and Signs of Periodontal Disease
There are different stages of periodontal diseases and the recommended treatment may be different depending on their severity. Each of these symptoms is treatable with a strong plan of action from your dentist.
Stage 1: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is extremely common and can be treated completely if it is addressed early on. You may have gingivitis if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Redness and Swelling
- Bleeding Gums: One of the hallmark signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums, especially during activities like brushing or flossing.
- Bad Breath: Persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of gingivitis.
Stage 2: Early Periodontitis Symptoms
When the inflammation has extended past your gums into the bone and the linning of the teeth, the disease is now called “Periodontitis”. The symptoms of early periodontitis include:
- Receding Gums
- Pocket Formation: Spaces or pockets can develop between the teeth and gums, where bacteria accumulate. This may be detected during a dental examination.
Stage 3: Moderate to Advanced Periodontitis
If you are experiencing moderate to advanced periodontitis and treatment is not administered quickly, you will risk bodily infections and possible tooth loss. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please contact your dentist right away:
- Loose Teeth: The supporting structures of the teeth, including the bone and ligaments, can be compromised, leading to tooth mobility.
- Changes in Bite: Teeth may no longer fit together properly when biting or chewing.
- Pus Formation: In advanced cases, there may be the formation of pus between the teeth and gums.
- Gum Sensitivity: Gums may become sensitive and painful, especially when applying pressure, such as during brushing or eating.
It's crucial to note that periodontal disease may progress without causing noticeable pain in its early stages. Regular dental checkups are essential for early detection, as dental professionals can identify signs of gum disease that may not be obvious to the individual.
Causes of Periodontal Diseases?
Periodontal diseases are extremely uncomfortable and can be a hassle to resolve. Prevention is the best medicine and we strongly recommend regular dental care to ensure a happy and healthy smile. Some common causes of periodontal diseases include:
Poor Overall Oral Hygiene:
- Inadequate or inconsistent oral hygiene practices, can result in the buildup of plaque on the teeth. When plaque is not regularly removed, it can harden into tartar, a calcified collection of bacteria that requires professional dental cleaning to eliminate.
- Avoiding the dentist is never the answer when trying to prevent these issues. Twice yearly teeth cleaning and addressing cavities immediately are good practices for healthy gums.
- Smoking and the use of tobacco products are significant risk factors for periodontal disease. Tobacco use can impair the immune system, hinder blood flow to the gums, and reduce the effectiveness of healing processes, making individuals more susceptible to gum infections.
- Genetic predisposition can play a role in an individual's susceptibility to periodontal disease. Some people may have a genetic makeup that makes them more prone to gum problems, even with good oral hygiene practices.
- Certain systemic conditions can increase the risk of periodontal disease. Diabetes, for example, can affect the body's ability to regulate blood sugar and increase the likelihood of gum infections. Other conditions, such as immune disorders and inflammatory diseases, can also contribute to gum problems.
- Hormonal fluctuations, such as those during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause, can impact the gums. Changes in hormone levels may make gums more sensitive and prone to inflammation, increasing the risk of gum disease.
- A diet lacking essential nutrients, particularly vitamin C, can weaken the immune system and compromise the body's ability to fight infections, including those affecting the gums.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding):
- Persistent teeth grinding and clenching can contribute to the development of periodontal disease. The excessive forces applied during grinding can damage the teeth and surrounding structures, leading to inflammation and increased vulnerability to gum problems.
- Some medications, such as antihypertensive drugs, anticonvulsants, and certain immunosuppressants, can have side effects that affect oral health and contribute to gum disease.
While periodontal disease can affect individuals of all ages, the risk tends to increase with age. Aging may be associated with changes in immune function and a longer exposure to risk factors over time.
Treatments for Periodontal Diseases
The treatment of periodontal diseases involves a combination of professional dental interventions and at-home oral care practices. The specific approach may vary based on the severity of the condition. Here are common treatment strategies for periodontal diseases:
- Scaling and root planing are dental procedures performed by a hygienist or dentist. Scaling involves the removal of plaque and tartar from the tooth surfaces, including below the gumline. Root planing smoothes the tooth roots to discourage further plaque accumulation.
- Antibiotics, either in the form of oral medications or topical gels, may be prescribed to control bacterial infection. This is especially relevant in cases where there are pockets of infection and inflammation.
- In advanced cases of periodontal disease, surgical procedures may be necessary. These can include:
- Flap Surgery: The gums are lifted to allow deeper cleaning of the tooth roots, and damaged tissue is removed.
- Bone Grafts: In cases where the bone supporting the teeth is damaged, grafts may be used to encourage new bone growth.
- Soft Tissue Grafts: These procedures can help regenerate lost gum tissue.
- Encouraging patients to make positive lifestyle changes can significantly impact the progression of periodontal disease. This includes quitting smoking and adopting a well-balanced diet rich in essential nutrients.
Improving Oral Hygiene:
- Patients are educated on the importance of maintaining optimal oral hygiene at home. This involves regular and thorough brushing, flossing, and the use of antimicrobial mouthwashes. Electric toothbrushes can be particularly helpful in removing plaque effectively.
Managing Contributing Factors:
- Addressing underlying factors such as diabetes, hormonal changes, and teeth grinding can contribute to the success of periodontal disease treatment. Coordination with other healthcare providers may be necessary in managing systemic conditions.
Regular Dental Checkups:
- Regular follow-up appointments with the dentist are crucial for monitoring the progress of treatment and ensuring that the disease is effectively controlled. It also allows for early detection of any signs of relapse.
- After successful treatment, ongoing maintenance is essential. This may involve periodic professional cleanings and checkups to prevent the recurrence of periodontal disease.
You Deserve to Love Your Smile
Periodontal diseases are serious conditions that should be diagnosed and treated by a dental professional in a timely manner. If you are showing symptoms of a possible periodontal disease and these symptoms do not resolve on their own, please contact your local Affordable Dentures & Implants office to receive a comprehensive care plan that is personalized to you.