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.
If you are missing one or more of your adult teeth, you're not alone — an estimated 178 million Americans have the same condition. Many try to get along without all of their teeth, and suffer from some of the familiar problems that go with the territory: smiles that don't look as appealing as they once did, problems eating certain foods, and awkwardness or embarrassment in social situations.
Yet there are other problems associated with tooth loss that are less obvious, but could have more of an impact on your health. These include nutritional difficulties, oral health issues, and bone loss.
It is well established that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and avoiding highly processed foods are essential parts of good nutrition. But many foods become difficult to chew if you have missing teeth — and those “challenging” foods are often the same ones that offer the greatest nutritional value. Softer foods are easier to eat, but they are often highly processed, and offer little nutritional value. Along with the possibility of malnourishment, a poor diet can lead to a compromised immune system and a decline in overall health.
Oral Health Issues
If you have only one or two missing teeth, you may not feel an urgent need to replace them now. Yet the problems that stem from missing teeth don't get better — and in time, they can get much worse. Teeth aren't fixed solidly in the jaw; instead, when even one tooth is missing, the remaining teeth tend to “drift” into new positions. This can cause a cascade of oral health problems, including unstable tooth positions, excessive tooth wear, bite problems, a greater chance of developing tooth decay and periodontal disease — and the loss of even more teeth.
You can't see the bone inside your jaw — but the consequences of bone loss are very real. Bone tissue needs stimulation to maintain its volume and density. When teeth are lost, the jaw bone that once supported them loses stimulation and begins to deteriorate. It can lose one-quarter of its width in just one year, and even more as time passes. As the jaw becomes smaller, facial height (the distance from nose to chin) decreases, and facial features lose support. The chin rotates forward, the corners of the mouth turn downward (as if frowning), and the cheeks can appear hollow. Loss of bone in the jaw can give you the appearance of being many years older than you actually are.
The consequences of tooth loss are very real, even if they are less visible than a gap in your smile. That's why it is so important not to put off the replacement of missing teeth.
The Hidden Consequences of Losing Teeth For those missing even one tooth, an unsightly gap is actually the least significant problem. What's of far greater concern is the bone loss that inevitably follows tooth loss. Dental implants can preserve bone, improve function and enhance psychological well-being. Learn how implants serve both as anchors to support replacement teeth and preserve bone... Read Article
Dental Implants – Your Best Option For Replacing Teeth Dental implants have many advantages over older methods of tooth replacement like bridges and dentures — from the way they function and feel to the way they look and last. Vigorous research has documented and confirmed that in the right situations, dental implant success rates are over 95%. It is no exaggeration to say that they have revolutionized dentistry. They may even change your life... Read Article