Periodontal disease (Periodontitis) is inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth and is also sometimes just referred to as gum disease though it is much more serious. Periodontitis is caused by certain bacteria (known as periodontal bacteria) and by the local inflammation triggered by those bacteria. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums become swollen, red, and may bleed. In advanced stages, periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; and even tooth loss.
How Do You Get Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. It's typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build- up on the teeth and harden. There are many risk factors for gum disease, but smoking is the most significant. Smoking also can make treatment for gum disease less successful. Other risk factors include diabetes; hormonal changes in girls and women; medications that lessen the flow of saliva.
Early Warning Signs
- Gums that bleed during and after tooth brushing.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums.
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
- Receding gums.
- Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums.
Diagnosis And Treatment
When you visit us at Forest & Ray, a dentist or dental hygienist will:
- Examine your gums and note any signs of inflammation.
- Use a tiny ruler called a “probe” to check for and measure any pockets around the teeth. In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimetres. This test for pocket depth is usually painless.
- Ask about your medical history to identify conditions or risk factors (such as smoking or diabetes) that may contribute to gum disease
A Forest & Ray dental professional may also:
- Take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss.
- Refer you to a periodontist. Periodontists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of gum disease and may provide you with treatment options that are not offered by your dentist.
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. The dentist may also suggest changing certain behaviours, such as quitting smoking, as a way to improve your treatment results.
What Can I Do To Prevent it?
You can keep your gums and teeth healthy by:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Flossing regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. Or, you can use a device such as a special brush, wooden or plastic pick, or a “water flosser” recommended by a dental professional.
- Visiting us routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning.
- Quitting smoking.
Chances are, if you are seeing your Forest & Ray dentist twice yearly and following our directions, you will never develop periodontal disease or other serious gum diseases. Still, it is good to know that you can turn to us if you do develop such symptoms. Why not make an appointment to see us? We are conveniently located in the heart of London and offer very accommodating visiting hours. Contact us today!