Periodontal (Gum) Disease

gum-disHave you been told you have periodontal (gum) disease? Periodontal disease can occur at any age, but is most commonly found in adults over 30. "Periodontal" refers to “around the tooth” and "periodontitis" means “inflammation around the tooth.”
The bacteria in your mouth, along with mucus, food and other particles, form plaque that sticks on your teeth. If the plaque is not removed by brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar (calculous). Once plaque has hardened into tartar, you are no longer able to remove it with your tooth brush and recommended to have your teeth cleaned by a dental professional.

Gingivitis

The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Gingivitis occurs when plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, your gums can bleed easily and become red/swollen. At this point
it is reversible with flossing/brushing daily along with getting your teeth cleaned by a dental hygienist or dentist.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the result of untreated gingivitis. Your body’s response to the plaque growing below your gums is to pull away creating a “pocket” which can then become infected. As this continues untreated, your bone and gums recede and your teeth lose support and become loose, eventually ending in the removal of your teeth.

Symptoms

  • Swollen, tender, red, and/or bleeding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Separating or loose permanent teeth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Receding gums

Common Risk Factors

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Medications

Some studies show that periodontal disease can be linked to other serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, strokes, respiratory disease and premature births.

bleeding gumsSee your dentist if you have any of these symptoms or think you might have gum disease. Your hygienist or dentist will use a probe (small ruler) to check the tooth’s pocket size to determine if you will need scaling and root planing (deep cleaning). X-rays may also be used to determine if you have any bone loss.

Most often the goal for periodontal disease is to be maintained, but the sooner it is treated the better. In some cases, if bone loss persists, surgery may be the treatment. Let us know if you have any questions!

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