Periodontal or gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Left untreated, periodontal disease results in significant decay of jaw bone around teeth. In essence, the bone “melts” away exposing the roots which causes the teeth to fall out. Furthermore, the growing body of evidence suggests that periodontal disease is interrelated with such dangerous health conditions as heart disease, lung infections, and premature births (click here for clinical research).
The early and moderate periodontal disease may exhibit few, if any, symptoms. However, warning signs of advanced
periodontal disease may include red, swollen, or bleeding gums; persistent bad breath; permanent teeth that are loose or separating; or changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
CHECKING FOR PERIODONTAL DISEASE
During each routine checkup, we will examine you for periodontal disease. A periodontal probe is used to determine if there is any breakdown in the gum and bone tissue attachment or if pockets – unhealthy spaces between your gums and teeth – have developed due to inflammation. Periodontal probe allows us to measure the depth of the pockets around your teeth. The deeper the pocket, the larger the scope of the periodontal disease. There are many stages and forms of periodontal disease, including:
Gums are firm and attached to teeth. There is no bone loss and roots are not exposed. Teeth do not wobble in place
Stage 1: GINGIVITIS
Some gum inflammation, separation, and bleeding. However, no significant bone loss, thus teeth are still secure in their place.
Stage 2: EARLY PERIODONTITIS
Clearly visible gum inflammation, greater separation, pronounced bleeding. Beginning stages of bone loss and tooth movement. However, if treatment begins during this stage, most your teeth can be saved.
Stage 3: ADVANCED PERIODONTITIS
Significant damage to bone and supporting gum tissues. Teeth are quite loose. Yellow / brown plaque is visible from a distance. If treatment begins during this stage, some of the teeth may have to be extracted and replaced with bridges, dentures, and implants.
Stage 4: SEVERE PERIODONTITIS
At this stage, gums recede further and separate from the tooth. Jaw bone is eroded by infection. Teeth are most likely to fall out and shift sideways creating gaps between teeth. If treatment begins during this stage, most if not all teeth must be extracted.
TREATING AND PREVENTING PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Treatment will depend on the type of periodontal disease and how far the condition has progressed. Treatment options include Scaling, Root Planing, and Oral Irrigation.
If deep pockets are found and bone has been destroyed, your dentist may recommend periodontal surgery.
To help protect against periodontal disease, it is key to prevent the buildup of plaque. Remember to have regular professional cleanings in addition to brushing and flossing every day.