Gum Disease Symptoms
Who gets periodontal disease?
People usually don't show signs of gum disease until they are in their 30s or 40s. Diabetes is a risk factor for periodontal disease, especially when it is not well controlled. Men are more likely to have periodontal disease than women. Although teenagers rarely develop periodontitis, they can develop gingivitis, the milder form of gum disease. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line.
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
Here are some things you can do to prevent periodontal diseases:
• Brush your teeth twice a day (with a fluoride toothpaste)
• Floss every day
• Visit the dentist routinely for a check-up and professional cleaning
• Eat a well balanced diet
• Don't use tobacco products
How do I know if I have periodontal disease?
Symptoms are often not noticeable until the disease is advanced. They include:
• Bad breath that won't go away
• Red or swollen gums
• Tender or bleeding gums
• Painful chewing
• Loose teeth
• Sensitive teeth
Any of these symptoms may signal a serious problem, which should be checked by a dentist. At your dental visit:
• The dentist will ask about your medical history to identify underlying conditions or risk factors (such as diabetes and smoking) that may contribute to periodontal disease.
• The dentist or hygienist will examine your gums and note any signs of inflammation.
• The dentist or hygienist will use a tiny ruler called a 'probe' to check for periodontal pockets and to measure any pockets. In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters.
• The dentist or hygienist may take an x-ray to see whether there is any bone loss.
• The dentist may refer you to a periodontist, a specialist who treats gum diseases.
How is periodontal disease treated?
The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. The number and types of treatment will vary, depending on the extent of the gum disease. Any type of treatment requires that the patient keep up good daily care at home. Additionally, modifying certain behaviors, such as quitting tobacco use, might also be suggested as a way to improve treatment outcome.
Deep Cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing)
The dentist, periodontist, or dental hygienist removes the plaque through a deep-cleaning method called scaling and root planing. Scaling means scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and helps remove bacteria that contribute to the disease.
Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, MD 3/13
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