What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is an ongoing gum infection that gradually destroys the support of your natural teeth. It can affect one or more of the periodontal tissues: alveolar bone, periodontal ligament, cementum, and gingiva. While there are many diseases that can affect your tooth-supporting structures, inflamed lesions caused by bacteria-filled plaque make up the majority of periodontal issues.
Periodontal disease is actually split into two categories: There are the early stages known as gingivitis and the more serious stage known as periodontitis. It’s possible to have gingivitis and for it to never become periodontitis, but you cannot have periodontitis without having gingivitis beforehand.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when there are various conditions that can affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. Retaining your teeth is directly dependent on proper periodontal care and maintenance that keeps your gums healthy. Healthy gums enhance the appearance of your teeth, they’re like the frame around a beautiful painting.
If your gums become unhealthy due to lack of proper care, they can become red and swollen, and even start to recede. In the later stages of periodontal disease, the supporting bone will deteriorate and your teeth will shift, loosen, or fall out. These stages do more than just affect your ability to chew and speak, they also spoil your smile.
When to see a periodontist?
Our beautiful nature needs to be sustainable for the future. That is the philosophy here at Salem Periodontal Specialist.
Periodontal treatment may be sought in several ways. Your general dentist or a hygienist may recommend a consultation with a periodontist if they find signs of periodontal disease through the course of a checkup or other dental care appointment. You may also decide to see a periodontist on your own, as a referral is not necessary to be seen at our office.
In fact, if you experience any of these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our office without delay:
- Bleeding while brushing or eating normal foods. Unexplained bleeding while performing regular cleaning or consuming food is the most common sign of a periodontal infection.
- Bad breath. Ongoing halitosis (bad breath), which continues despite rigorous oral cleaning, can point to periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of a gum infection.
- Loose teeth and gum recession. Longer-looking and loose-feeling teeth can indicate recession of the gums and/or bone loss as a result of periodontal disease.
- Related health concerns. Patients with heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia or osteoporosis are often diagnosed with correlating periodontal infections. The bacterial infection can spread through the bloodstream, affecting other areas of the body.
The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer.
The following are common signs of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:
- Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
- A sore that fails to heal, and bleeds easily.
- A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
- Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
- Difficulty chewing or swallowing.
These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly.
Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores.
Please contact us so we may help.
Can it be treated?
Dr. Kaindl’s practice provides a variety of surgical services for the treatment of periodontal issues. We pride ourselves on the fact that we are very conservative in our treatment recommendations and limit surgery to the areas where it is absolutely necessary.
Many times, the early stages of periodontal disease are best treated with non-surgical periodontal therapy. Even in severe cases, non-surgical periodontal therapy often precedes surgical therapy. This is done to improve the overall tissue quality prior to surgery and also to help limit the areas requiring surgery.
WOMEN AND PERIODONTAL HEALTH
Throughout a woman’s life, hormonal changes affect tissue throughout the body. Fluctuations in hormonal levels occur during puberty, pregnancy and menopause. At these times, the chance of periodontal disease may increase, requiring special care of your oral region.
During puberty, there is increased production of sex hormones. These higher hormone levels increase gum sensitivity and lead to greater irritation from plaque and food particles. The gums can become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.
Similar symptoms occasionally appear several days before menstruation. Bleeding of the gums, bright red swelling between the teeth and gum, or sores on the inside of the cheek may occur. These symptoms generally clear up once the period has started.
Your gums and teeth are also affected during pregnancy. Between the second and eighth month, gums may also swell, bleed, and become red or tender. Large lumps may appear as a reaction to local irritants. However, these growths are generally painless and not cancerous. They may require professional removal, but usually disappear sometime after delivery. Periodontal health practices should be part of your prenatal care. Any infections during pregnancy, including periodontal infections, can place a baby’s health at risk. For more information, see the section of our website labeled “Pregnancy and Periodontal Disease” under the “Mouth-Body Connection” tab.
Swelling, bleeding, and tenderness of the gums may also occur when you are taking oral contraceptives, which are synthetic hormones.
You should always mention any prescriptions you are taking, including oral contraceptives, prior to medical or dental treatment. This will help eliminate the risk of drug interactions, such as antibiotics with oral contraceptives, which lessens the effectiveness of the contraceptive.
Changes in the look and feel of your mouth may occur if you are menopausal or post-menopausal. They include: feeling pain and burning in your gum tissue and salty, peppery, sour tastes, and “dry mouth.” Careful oral hygiene at home and professional cleaning may relieve these symptoms. There are also saliva substitutes to treat the effects of dry mouth.
SCHEDULE YOUR CONSULTATION
The only way to receive an accurate price quote is to call us and come in for a consultation, and we can give you a specific price for your case. Please call us at Salem Periodontal Specialists, (503)-585-4281 to schedule your consultation.