Many people have questions about periodontal disease. To help you understand the condition of your mouth and the treatments available at Wasatch Gentle Dental, Dr. Andrew Smith and Dr. Jason Wareham have provided this page of answers to frequently asked questions. If you have further questions about periodontics or gum disease, and to make an appointment with our dentists in Murray, Utah, please call our office at 801-262-6661.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is a degenerative oral condition. It begins as an inflammation of the gums, and can eventually cause your gums to recede and your bone tissue to deteriorate. If allowed to progress unchecked, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Additionally, periodontal disease has been linked to a number of systemic health conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, respiratory disease, osteoporosis, and pregnancy complications. The early stages of periodontal disease are characterized by gums that are red, swollen, or bleed easily. If you believe you have periodontal disease, schedule an appointment with our dentists so that we can check for signs of this condition and quickly provide treatment.
What causes periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease can be caused or exacerbated by one or more of the following factors:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking or other tobacco use
- Genetic predisposition
- Pregnancy and menopause
- Chronic stress
- Poor diet
- Underlying medical issues, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, respiratory disease, and osteoporosis
- Medications, including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, steroids, and anti-depressants
What is a periodontist?
Periodontists are dental specialists who have received an additional 3 years of training beyond dental school. They focus on treating problems in the soft tissues of the mouth and the underlying jawbone which supports the teeth. Periodontists are primarily concerned with preventing and treating conditions that affect the gums and jawbone, namely, periodontal disease and bone loss. They also perform treatments such as:
- Implant placement
- Osteoplasty (hard tissue recontouring)
- Gingivoplasty (soft tissue recontouring)
- Bone grafting
- Deep pocket cleanings
- Crown lengthening
When should I see a periodontist?
You should visit the periodontist for a consultation if you notice any signs of gum disease, including:
- Bleeding while eating or brushing
- Continued halitosis (bad breath)
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Gangrene in the tissues
We also recommend that you consult a periodontist if you have a systemic health condition that has been proven to be connected with periodontal infections. These conditions include heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and respiratory disease. For more information about these conditions and their connection to gum disease, speak with your dentist or medical doctor.
Is there more than one kind of periodontal disease?
Yes. There are several stages of periodontal disease, with varying degrees of severity. They include:
- Gingivitis – the first stage of gum disease. This is a mild form of the condition, characterized by inflammation in the gums, making them intender and likely to bleed.
- Periodontitis – a more severe stage of gum disease. Gums begin to recede from the teeth, and deeper pockets form between the gums and teeth. The gums also become very irritated, inflamed, and bleed easily. Slight to moderate bone loss may occur.
- Advanced Periodontitis – if you progress to this stage of the disease, you can expect to experience gum, bone, and periodontal ligament tissue to deteriorate. If untreated, your teeth will become loose and may fall out. Moderate to severe bone loss may occur in this stage of gum disease.
How is periodontal disease treated?
There are many surgical and non-surgical treatments available, from deep dental cleanings and scaling and root planing to gum grafting and pocket reduction surgery. When you meet with our dentists, we will examine your mouth to determine the best treatment for your needs.