Gum Disease and Periodontal Cleanings
Decline in gum health can happen slowly without pain. Most patients do not know that they have Periodontal Disease. At Westbank Dental, we thoroughly examine the gums, bone, and supporting structures around the teeth. These are just as important as the teeth!
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal Disease is a serious gum infection resulting in damage to the gums and bone which support the teeth. Without treatment, the progressing bone loss will cause the teeth to loosen or result in tooth loss. The infection usually results because of infrequent checkups and lack of routine dental care. Certain risk factors like diabetes and smoking make some individuals more at risk.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
Gingivitis: Plaque is filled with bacteria, and when it sits around the teeth, the body’s immune system turns on to fight it. If the plaque remains on the teeth long term, it calcifies and becomes calculus, which must be professionally removed. In this stage, the gums are very tender and bleed easily; however, there is no bone loss yet. Gingivitis is reversible with good home care and regular visits to Westbank Dental.
Mild Periodontitis: If the plaque and light calculus are not removed, they destroy the ligament that attaches the gums tightly to the tooth. Without the ligament attachments, the bacteria have access to go deeper underneath the gums. The plaque and calculus forms below the surface and cannot be seen with the eye. Again, filled with bacteria, the infection now transfers to the bone. The body continues to fight the infection, but unfortunately at this stage, we see a mild destruction of the supporting jawbone. Once the bone is gone, it will not regrow on its own.
Moderate Periodontitis: The bone destruction process simply continues unless a dentist intervenes. As the bone is lost, the bacteria now gains access to the space deeper under the gums. Dentists call this space a “periodontal pocket”, and we use an instrument, called a probe, to measure the depth of the pocket. The deeper the pocket, the more severe the disease. In the moderate stage, patients might notice that the teeth are loose.
Severe Periodontitis: At this stage, the bone loss has progressed to the point that some or all teeth must be extracted. Once severe, dentists and patients have a difficult time maintaining a healthy mouth.
Symptoms of Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Bright red or purplish gums
- Gums that feel tender when touched or when flossing
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
- Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Pus around the teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- Loss of teeth
- Painful chewing
- New spaces developing between your teeth
- Gums that pull away from your teeth or recede
- A change in your bite
Thankfully, Periodontal Disease is largely preventable and treatable with routine visits to our office and excellent home care. In its early stages, it is also quite easy to maintain.
If it has been awhile since your last dental visit, please come see us. We love to help our patients get back on track, and our approach is always guilt-free!