Your mouth involves a lot more than just teeth, and we want your entire mouth to be healthy. If your gums hurt or bleed, you may have "periodontal" or gum disease.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and bone surrounding teeth. In a healthy mouth, gums are pink and securely attached to teeth. The bone surrounding the teeth is healthy and follows a uniform pattern around the anatomy of each tooth.
If you have periodontal disease, your gums become red and inflamed, and the attachment of gums to teeth is damaged. With time, this inflammation worsens, and the bone that holds teeth in place can erode.
Periodontal disease is caused by bacteria and your own immune system. Everyone has bacteria in their mouth. Certain types of it like to live around the base of your teeth where the gum meets the tooth since there is no oxygen there. Regular brushing and flossing, along with regular dental cleanings, keep these bacteria at bay.
If bacteria stay on the tooth long enough, it colonizes the space. Your body tries to get rid of the bacteria by increasing the blood supply to the area to fight the bacteria, and then later by trying to move away from the bacteria and leading to gum recession and bone loss.
How Do Know If I Have Periodontal Disease?
The earliest sign of periodontal disease is bleeding when you brush or floss. Healthy gums shouldn’t bleed when you clean your teeth.
While bleeding doesn’t necessarily mean that you have periodontal disease, it does point to inflammation or gingivitis around your teeth. If your gums hurt, that is also not normal. Just like pain in your chest, you shouldn’t ignore pain in your gums. Finally, if you start to notice that your teeth are loose, it may indicate an advanced periodontal infection.
How Is Periodontal Disease Diagnosed?
While we may suspect periodontal disease based on what we see and what you tell us about your teeth, we can’t diagnose it without measuring or probing the gums around your teeth. Using a small instrument, we note and record the depths or your gums and also whether or not they bleed. This, along with x-rays of the bone levels around your teeth, allows us to classify your gum condition as healthy, gingivitis, or periodontal disease.
How Do You Treat Periodontal Disease?
To treat periodontal disease, we have to get rid of the hard bacterial deposits that are under your gum line. Once things get to the periodontal stage, a toothbrush will not remove the deposits because they are stuck to the tooth too firmly.
That is why we perform a procedure called scaling and root planing. We typically numb the gums and use a rapidly vibrating tip that shakes the deposits off the tooth and the flushes them away with water. We follow with hand instruments so that we can feel the deposits better and ensure their entire removal.
After initial scaling and root planing, you are not cured of periodontal disease. The hard, sticky colonies of bacteria are removed and the gums can heal, but the bacteria will always try to come back. Great homecare and more regular visits to the dentist help to keep the bacteria from taking over again.
Please Call Us to Schedule Your Cleaning
If you suspect you may have periodontal disease or are due for a dental cleaning, please call Chappell Family Dentistry to arrange an appointment. We will evaluate your needs and develop a treatment plan to get your oral health back on track.