The medical world will tell you that early detection is the key to curing or heading off the worst health problems. The same is true for your teeth. If you’re vigilant and look for issues before they become major, you can save yourself a lot of problems.
Periodontal disease can be prevented with early detection. Mid-Michigan Dental Excellence in Alma, MI, can detect, with regular exams, any issues your gums may be having and head them off at the pass.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
The early form of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. The symptoms include puffy gums, bleeding when brushing, and sensitivity at the gum line. If you ignore these symptoms, they can worsen. Periodontal disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria-containing plaque that forms on your teeth. The bacteria release toxins that continue to form on the tartar and can cause inflammation in your gum tissue. The best way to keep plaque away is with good dental hygiene and regular dental cleanings.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
Early Stage Gum Disease
Do your gums bleed easily? Are they tender and swollen? These are signs of early gum disease, or gingivitis. The good news is that, at this stage, the disease is still reversible. We can take care of it in our office with a professional cleaning. You can maintain your mouth health by daily brushing and flossing.
Advanced Gum Disease
Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis and, according to the American Dental Association, it affects 47.2 percent of adults over 30 in the United States. It can lead to the loss of the tissue and bone that support your teeth, and it becomes more severe over time. If left untreated, the condition will cause your teeth to feel loose.
Aggressive Periodontal Disease
This is a very destructive form of periodontal disease in which you rapidly lose tissue and bone. It can occur in just some areas of your mouth or your entire mouth.
Some Signs of Periodontal Disease
- Gums that are swollen and tender and that bleed easily
- Persistently bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Gums that are pulling away from your teeth
- A change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together when you bite)
Note: You can have gum disease with no warning signs. Thatís why we stress the importance of regular dental checkups and good dental care at home. It keeps periodontal disease from becoming more serious.
Several factors can increase your chance of developing periodontal disease in addition to poor dental hygiene:
- smoking, or chewing tobacco
- family history
- crooked teeth that make it hard to clean between them
- some chronic diseases, like diabetes (Some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several health conditions such as diabetes or stroke.)
- The use of certain medications, like some cancer therapy drugs or oral contraceptives
What We’ll Do During Your Exam
If you suspect you might have gingivitis or periodontal disease, come into the office. We’ll talk to you about your medical history to see if you have any risk factors for gum disease. Then we’ll examine your gums for any sign of inflammation in the form of “pockets.”
Pockets are the spaces around your teeth that are caused by gum disease. The average depth of pockets in a healthy mouth is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters. Using a tiny ruler called a probe, we will measure any pockets in your mouth.
If the periodontal disease is caught early, we will remove the tartar and plaque from your teeth and beneath your gums. This procedure will allow your gums to heal and they will tighten around the tooth again. If you don’t have any significant bone loss, that cleaning may be the only treatment you need.
If we still see deep periodontal pockets after the cleaning, we may recommend further treatment to stabilize your condition.
You don’t have to lose your teeth to gum disease. By brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily and scheduling regular dental visits, you can keep a healthy smile for a lifetime.