Periodontal diseases are infections of the gums that gradually destroy the support of your natural teeth. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. Bacteria found in plaque produce toxins or poisons that irritate the gums. They may cause them to turn red, swell, and bleed easily. This early stage is called gingivitis. If this irritation is prolonged, it may progress to cause more damage. The gums may separate from the teeth causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough substance known as calculus (or tartar). This can occur both above and below the gum line. As periodontal diseases progress, the supporting gum tissue and bone that holds teeth in place deteriorate. If left untreated, this leads to tooth loss. However, don't be fooled. With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness, and swelling do not have to be present. Further, pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease. This disease damages the teeth, gum, and jawbone of more than 80 percent of Americans by age 45.
If you have any of the following symptoms, please contact us or your dentist to determine the health of your mouth:
During the periodontal exam, your gums are checked for bleeding, swelling and firmness. The teeth are checked for movement and sensitivity. Your bite is assessed. Full-mouth X-rays can help detect breakdown of bone surrounding your teeth.
Periodontal probing helps determines how severe your disease is. A probe is like a tiny ruler that is gently inserted into the crevice around teeth. The deeper the crevice, the more severe the disease.
In healthy gums, the crevice measure less than 4 millimeters - about one-eighth of an inch - and no bone loss appears on X-rays. Gums are tight against the teeth and have pink tips. Crevices that measure 4 millimeters to 5 millimeters are called pockets and indicate signs of disease. Tartar may be progressing below the gum line and some bone loss could be evident. Pockets that are 5 millimeters or deeper indicate a serious condition that usually includes receding gums and a greater degree of bone loss.
Following the evaluation, your dentist or periodontist will recommend treatment options.
Methods used to treat gum disease vary and are based on the stage of the disease.