Periodontal Disease

Once you reach the age of 35, you’re much more likely to lose teeth due to poor gum health than you are due to cavities.

Over time, gums that aren’t taken care of will recede. This recession leads to bone loss, which in turn leads to tooth loss.

Gum diseases, also known as periodontal diseases, affect one or more of the periodontal tissues:

  • Alveolar bone
  • Periodontal ligament
  • Cementum
  • Gingiva

There are many different kinds of periodontal diseases, but plaque-induced inflammatory lesions are by far the most common.

This plaque is a sticky, colorless film, made up of bacteria and food particles. Over time, it releases toxins that irritate the gums. It also turns into tartar: a rough, porous substance.

Happy dental patient

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Dentist explaining X-ray to patient

Plaque-induced inflammatory lesions are broken into two major categories:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis

Any patient who has periodontitis previously had gingivitis, but not all gingivitis patients get periodontitis.

One of the more troubling aspects of periodontitis is its ability to go unnoticed. 80% of people who have the disease are unaware of it. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to regularly visit your dentist.

The disease will do more than just lead to irritation and tooth loss. Its bacterial infection can spread through the bloodstream, which can lead to issues related to diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and osteopenia.

When to See a Periodontist

Patients typically see a periodontist because a general dentist or hygienist refers them. That said, they may also choose to seek one out on their own. In fact, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with a periodontist if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Bleeding – If your gums are bleeding when you brush, floss, or even eat food, there’s a good chance you’re suffering with a periodontal infection.
  • Gum Recession – Sometimes, patients won’t realize they’re suffering with periodontitis until their teeth are beginning to feel loose due to gum recession.
  • Halitosis – Specifically, periodontitis could be the cause if you are suffering with bad breath despite cleaning your mouth.

Along with periodontitis, you also want to be on the lookout for oral cancer. One of the best places to check for this is in your mucosa: the smooth, coral pink lining inside your mouth. Here are some signs that you could be at risk:

  • Chronic sore throats
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Red or white patches
  • Lumps
  • Sores

It’s important to note that pain isn't always a symptom. This is why it’s important to make sure to check your mouth at least once a month for oral cancer. If you see anything concerning, please contact our office!

Periodontal Maintenance

Dental plaque is the main cause of periodontal diseases. Daily brushing and flossing, along with regular dentist visits, are essential for ensuring that this plaque doesn’t harden into tartar.

The following factors can put you at greater risk for periodontitis:

  • Bruxism
  • Diabetes
  • Medication
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Smoking
  • Stress

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