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.
When you are a child, your first loose tooth can be cause for celebration; when you are an adult, it definitely is not. Biting and chewing with a tooth that is not securely attached in its socket can be difficult or even painful — and any tooth that becomes loose is at risk of needing to be removed or, at worst, falling out. It's often possible to prevent that from happening, but quick action is required.
The most common reason for tooth looseness is periodontal disease — a bacterial infection of the gum and/or bone tissues that surround and support your teeth. The infection results from bacterial plaque that sits on your teeth in the absence of effective oral hygiene. Over time, periodontal disease will cause gum tissue to detach from the teeth as plaque and tartar formation increases and tooth-supporting bone is lost. As more bone is lost, teeth gradually become loose and are unable to withstand normal biting forces. If severe periodontal disease remains untreated, loose teeth will eventually fall out.
Another common contributor to the loosening of teeth is a clenching or grinding habit that generates too much biting force. This force can stretch the periodontal ligaments that join the teeth to the supporting bone, making your teeth looser. These habits can accelerate bone loss and also cause jaw pain and excessive tooth wear.
Just as the causes of loose teeth can be biological (disease) or mechanical (too much force) — or both — so, too, are the treatments. Let's first take a look at the biological approach.
To control gum disease, a dental professional must thoroughly clean the teeth of plaque and harder deposits (tartar or calculus) in which bacteria thrive; this includes the tooth-root surfaces beneath the gum line. At the same visit, you will be instructed on effective oral hygiene techniques and products to use at home. Often this type of deep cleaning, combined with improved oral hygiene, will reduce inflammation and heal the gums enough to cause some tightening of the teeth.
The mechanical approach involves modifying the forces that are applied to the teeth. This can be achieved in a number of ways. For example, an occlusal (bite) adjustment can be performed by carefully reshaping minute amounts of tooth surface enamel. This changes the way upper and lower teeth contact each other, redirecting and lessening the force. Replacing broken fillings and restoring worn teeth is also sometimes needed to create a more balanced bite, even when teeth are not loose.
It is also possible to reduce stresses on teeth by temporarily or permanently splinting them together like fence pickets so that any biting force is distributed among groups of teeth rather than individual loosened teeth. The splint is a very small metal bracket bonded to the backs of or tops of the teeth.
If clenching or grinding habits are a problem, a custom-made bite guard (also called an occlusal splint) can be worn when needed. Placed in the mouth at night or in times of stress, it can protect the teeth from the consequences of too much biting force. This can also be helpful in preventing excessive tooth wear, and sometimes in relieving jaw pain.
Loose teeth can be successfully treated with both biological and mechanical techniques. A thorough examination will be needed to determine the best approach. So if you are experiencing tooth looseness, don't wait — the sooner this problem is addressed, the more likely you are to keep your natural teeth.
Loose Teeth Tooth looseness is a complex but treatable problem. More often than not, it is a fairly late sign of periodontal (gum) disease. If you are experiencing this, it's important to act fast to try and save your teeth... Read Article
Treatment for Loose Teeth Sometimes very loose teeth can be splinted or joined together like pickets in a fence so that any biting force is distributed among groups of teeth rather than individual loosened teeth. However, before deciding upon a treatment, the long-term prognosis of the teeth must be considered... Read Article