Online Dental Education Library
Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.
When to See a Periodontist
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:
- Unexplained bleeding while performing regular cleaning or consuming food is the most common sign of a periodontal infection.
- Ongoing halitosis (bad breath), which continues despite rigorous oral cleaning, can point to periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of a gum infection.
- Longer-looking and loose-feeling teeth can indicate recession of the gums and/or bone loss as a result of periodontal disease.
Patients with heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia or osteoporosis are often diagnosed with correlating periodontal infections. The bacterial infection can spread through the blood stream, affecting other areas of the body.
- Bleeding while brushing or eating normal foods
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth and gum recession
- Related health concerns
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a chronic infection of the periodontal or gum tissue. This infection is caused by the presence of a bacterial film, which is called dental plaque, that forms on the teeth surfaces. Bacteria that found in dental plaque produce toxins which irritate the gums. They may cause them to turn red, swell and bleed easily. If this irritation is prolonged, the gums separate from the teeth, causing pockets (spaces) to form. Plaque can also harden into a rough, porous 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. 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% of Americans by age 45. Each case is looked at individually, because in addition to plaque there are co-factors such as genetics, smoking, and overall health, which contribute to disease severity. Once periodontal disease is detected, our goal as therapists is to provide information and treatment necessary to control/ or arrest the active infection, and help keep the disease in an inactive or controlled state.
However, don’t be fooled!
With periodontal disease, bleeding, redness and swelling do not have to be present. The periodontal disease symptoms of inflammation may only be evident with sub gingival probing. Further, pain is usually not associated with periodontal disease.
The intra-oral camera is a valuable tool dental professionals can use to help you understand your examination, diagnosis and treatment. This small, handheld video camera is about the same size as a dental mirror (or an oversized pen) and comes with a disposable plastic sheath for contamination prevention. It is used to take actual pictures of your teeth with up to 25 times magnification and project them onto a screen for your review. It can also be used to give you a video tour of your entire mouth so that you can see things such as plaque deposits, decay, worn teeth, and broken or missing fillings. Lastly, pertinent images can be printed for your patient file for future reference — or even for you to take home.
A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words
This adage is proven true many times each day in offices equipped with an intra-oral camera. Prior to the development of this technology, some patients found it challenging to understand problems such as dental decay and periodontal disease. Now, it's possible to display, pause, and zoom in during a video examination of the problem area, so that you can see it for yourself — all in color and crystal clear.
Advantages of an Intra-Oral Camera
- An intra-oral camera makes you more of an active partner in your dental treatment, enabling you to see what a dentist sees — an especially important benefit when additional treatments need to be discussed, or when treatment options must be explained — so that you can make informed decisions.
- You may be more comfortable asking questions and better able to understand a treatment option or oral hygiene concern when you can actually see it.
- Because it gives you the real-world picture of your dental hygiene, the intra-oral camera is ideally suited to show you techniques for improving your oral health and hygiene habits.
- With its powerful magnification (much superior to the naked eye), it reveals the early stages of maladies such as gum disease and cavities.
- The images can be captured and reexamined later, to show you changes in your oral health and hygiene or how a multi-phase treatment is progressing.
- Furthermore, it can provide insurance companies with the proof they require to approve a needed treatment.