As a general dentist, few things are more frustrating to deal with than periodontal disease. It can completely destroy a mouth BEFORE a patient truly realizes how bad it is.
The word literally means ‘around the teeth.’ So as the name implies it is a disease that affects the tissues that surround and support the teeth. This includes the gums and the bone.
At its worst, periodontal disease can cause you to lose some or even all of your teeth even if you have never had a single cavity. If it is not caught in the relatively early stages and treated promptly and consistently, it can easily progress to this dental armageddon.
Since the key to treating periodontal disease is early detection, the single best thing you can do is consistently see the dentist for checkups and cleanings. In fact, the single greatest common factor in most (not all) periodontal cases is the lack of thorough professional teeth cleanings.
When we do discover early to moderate periodontal disease, our first treatment is virtually always a scaling, otherwise known as a “deep cleaning.” This removes the tartar from the teeth and the root surfaces which helps the gums heal and slows or even stops the disease. The key here is to get the scaling done as soon as possible, and afterwards to consistently see the dentist for cleanings every three to six months.
If the disease has progressed beyond where a deep cleaning will suffice, we refer our patients to a qualified periodontist (gum specialist). These dentists have gone beyond dental school to learn more about advanced gum disease treatment. We believe strongly that they are the best people to take over at the later disease stages. Even then, we are a part of the treatment.
We provide fixes for missing teeth or other care. Additionally, we usually help with continued prevention by doing some of the cleanings after the periodontist has finished all treatment.
Since early detection is the key to keeping our teeth, what signs should you look for?
First, gingivitis, which is generally noticed by bleeding gums when you brush or floss.
Next, spaces opening or closing between teeth. Teeth that seem to have shifted significantly often indicate the loss of bone around those teeth.
Finally, teeth that just seem to no longer be solid when you push on them. Healthy bone and gums do not allow most teeth to move by any obvious amount.