FAQ # 4: How can I tell if I have gum disease?
As it was discussed in the first part of this FAQ series, one of the main problems with an oral bacterial infection is that it doesn’t cause any painful symptoms. So many patients ignore the initial signs of this condition until they have a serious problem on their hands, says the dentist; one that requires more invasive and expensive techniques for treatment. The signs and symptoms of oral bacterial infection, which is essentially what periodontitis is, vary from patient to patient, but if you present with any of the following in any combination your oral health may be in grave danger, warns the dentist:
• Gum inflammation (redness) and tenderness.
• Swollen and puffy gums that have advanced unnaturally upon the crowns of the teeth.
• Conversely, gums that have receded unnaturally from the crowns of the teeth, exposing the darker tooth roots underneath.
• Persistent bad breath (for this, the dentist advises that you ask a close friend or family member to be honest with you).
• A persistent bad taste in the mouth.
• Oral lesions or sores that won’t heal.
• Brown mottling and discoloration of the tooth crowns and gums, especially at the gum margin.
• Teeth that feel loose in their sockets.
• Eventual tooth loss.
Sometimes, however, periodontal disease can present with no obvious symptoms! If you would really like to know whether your mouth is in the clear, it is best advised that you schedule an appointment with the dentist.
FAQ # 5: What does the treatment for periodontal disease involve?
The course of action recommended to you by the dentist really depends upon how far advanced the disease is. You may be required to undergo root planing and scaling; a non-surgical technique designed to remove the calculus (build-up of plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth) and eliminate infection deep down in your periodontal pockets. You may also be required to go on a course of anti-biotics; or, alternatively, have anti-microbials applied directly to the affected tooth roots to help your body win in the war on infection in the mouth.
Traditionally, the treatment of advanced periodontal disease involved surgery, in which case the gums would need to be peeled back to expose the infected tooth roots. This, of course, required incisions to be made and sutures to be inserted, which led to post-operative pain and discomfort for the patient, says the dentist. However, the advent of laser periodontics enables trained and qualified dentists to eliminate bacteria and infection in the mouth without the need for surgery. Lasers are virtually pain-free, far more accurate in the removal of infected tissue and do not require any incisions to be made. So, says the dentist, modern treatments for periodontal disease really need not be painful or traumatic at all!
Ask the Dentist: Stay Tuned
If you would like to find out more about periodontal (gum) disease and its recommended treatments, then stay tuned for the third installment of this four-part article series, courtesy of this dentist.