Periodontal & Gum Disease FAQ
What are common signs and symptoms of periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms – particularly pain – may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, you should still be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms, which include:
Red, swollen or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods
Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
Loose or separating teeth
Pus between your gums and teeth
Sores in your mouth
Persistent bad breath
A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
A change in the fit of partial dentures
If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist or periodontist right away!
I have heard there is a connection between gum disease and other diseases. Is this true?
The connection between gum disease and other system diseases has been long studied. Several research studies have indicated that gum disease may be linked to other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, and researchers suspect that inflammation may be the basis behind this relationship.
What is the difference between plaque and calculus?
Plaque is the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. Bacteria live in plaque and secrete acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue. This irritation causes an inflammatory reaction by your body that can eventually lead to gingivitis and periodontal disease. If plaque is not removed regularly by tooth brushing and flossing, it hardens to create calculus (also known as tartar). Calculus cannot be removed with a toothbrush; only a dental professional can remove it during an oral cleaning. To keep plaque and calculus under control, it is essential to brush your teeth twice every day, floss at least once every day, and see your dental professional for regular cleanings.
Can children be at risk for developing periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is rarely found in children, and only sometimes found in adolescents. However, children should still learn the importance of keeping their teeth and gums healthy to prevent periodontal disease in the future. Children should brush their teeth twice a day and learn how to floss properly- if children learn how to floss at an early age, they will be more likely to make it a lifetime habit. These two simple acts will help protect their teeth and gums from periodontal disease.
As a parent, you should also be aware of the warning signs of periodontal disease, which include red, swollen, bleeding gums or bad breath that won’t go away. If your child develops any of these symptoms, tell your dental professional right away. It’s also a good idea to ensure your dental professional knows your complete family history, as genetics can play an important role in the early development of periodontal disease.
Who should treat my periodontal disease: my general dentist or a periodontist?
Instead of leaving your treatment to one dental professional, you should consider having both your general dentist and a periodontist be actively involved in the diagnosis and treatment of your periodontal disease. This team approach will help your general dentist (who is familiar with your dental and medical history) and your periodontist (who has extensive experience treating periodontal disease) collaborate to tailor a treatment plan that works best for your individual case.
What can I do at home to prevent periodontal disease?
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to take good care of your teeth and gums at home. This includes brushing your teeth after every meal and before bedtime, flossing at least once each day, and seeing your dentist or periodontist for regular exams twice a year. Spending a few minutes a day on preventative measures may save you the time and money of treating periodontal disease!
I was recently diagnosed with periodontal disease. How often should I see my periodontist for an examination?
Regular examinations are very important to keep track of the present status of your disease and any disease progression over time. Your periodontist will work with you to create a maintenance schedule depending on how advanced your periodontal disease is at that time. Based on many variable factors such as your overall health, the severity of bone loss, and risk factors such as smoking and genetics, your periodontist will constantly tailor your care so your periodontal disease does not progress further. He or she may recommend exams every six months for mild periodontal disease, or every few months for more advanced stages.
What is the difference between Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Gingivitis - Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Luckily, gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good at-home oral care.
Periodontitis - Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body essentially turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets between the teeth and gums that can become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may fall out or need to be removed.
- Periodontitis diagnosis is typically classified by stage and grade. After your periodontist conducts a thorough assessment of your unique case, he or she may assign a stage ranging from initial to severe that describes the acuteness of disease. Additionally, your periodontist may assign a grade which communicates the rate of disease progression and anticipated response to treatment.