periodontal smallIn its earliest stage, periodontal disease can cause some unsightly bleeding and swelling in the gums. Though, if neglected and allowed to progress, the disease can cause loss of teeth, among many other complications.

Fortunately, periodontal disease is both treatable and preventable. In some cases, periodontal disease can also be reversed, especially in its earliest stage. However, it would be wise to take note that in its later stages, gum disease can only be managed through certain medications and by following a strict, oral care routine.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Commonly referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease is a form of bacterial infection that gradually destroys the tissues surrounding the teeth.

It begins off as plaque, which is a sticky substance that always forms on your teeth. If allowed to accumulate to excessive levels, which often happens as a result of negligence and poor oral care habits, plaque can harden and turn into tartar. Once plaque has become tartar, it can bind so tightly to the teeth that the only way to remove it is by having it removed by the dentist through professional cleaning.

There are two main stages involved in periodontal disease – gingivitis and periodontitis. Although periodontitis is often preceded by gingivitis, it’s not always the case and periodontitis can develop without having to go through gingivitis, nor does gingivitis always have to progress to periodontitis.

In gingivitis, the gums often swell and bleed. The latter is most noticeable when brushing teeth. If this happens to you, be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately and bring this to your dentist’s attention.

If acted upon and treated early enough, gingivitis can be stopped and reversed. However, if allowed to develop, it can advance to periodontitis, which can cause the gums to recede and cause pockets to form in between the teeth.

If left unchecked, periodontitis can progress even further and can ultimately lead to tooth loss. However, there have been studies that show that periodontal disease can also cause dementia, respiratory infections, diabetic complications, heart complications and so on.

Diagnosis

The best way to diagnose periodontal disease is through a thorough oral examination done at the dentist’s office.

During a periodontal exam, the dentist will check the gums for signs of bleeding, swelling and for firmness. The teeth are then checked for any signs of loosening and sensitivity. The bite is also checked for misalignment.

Full mouth X-rays can also be done to help detect the severity of the breakdown of the bone surrounding the teeth.

Dentists may also use a periodontal probe that’s gently inserted into the pockets around the teeth to assess the severity of the tissue. The deeper the probe goes, the more severe the disease is.

After the exam, the results are evaluated and the dentist or periodontist then recommends possible treatment options, depending on the severity and type of gum disease.

Establishing Good Dental Hygiene Habits

If you’d like to enjoy a complete and healthy smile for as long as possible, it is important that you establish good dental hygiene habits as early as today. You should also encourage your family to do the same.

A good dental hygiene habit includes brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash to kill off any excess bacteria. It is also important to visit the dentist regularly for checkups and professional cleanings.

Regular dental visits, in particular, are very important as it allows dentists to monitor your dental health, making it easier for them to prevent dental problems and treat them as soon as they appear.

By doing all of these, you help protect your teeth and ultimately, your life.

If you think you may be suffering from periodontal disease, contact Dr. Graham Farless, DDS at 336-282-2868 to schedule an appointment today. Or visit www.gsodentist.com to learn more about Dr. Graham Farless and his team.