You may have periodontal disease and not realize it. This disease is the primary cause of the loss of teeth after age 35. If caught in its early stages, however, periodontal disease can be reversed with proper care.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, a colorless film of bacteria that forms on the teeth. Plague mixes with sugars and starches in the diet to form acids and other by-products in the mouth, irritating the gums and causing them to become red, tender, and swollen. It also causes the gums to bleed easily. If the plaque is not removed daily, it hardens to form calculus (tartar) around the necks of the teeth.
The tissue that attaches the gums to the teeth can be destroyed by the irritants in plaque. The gums pull away from the teeth and small pockets form between the teeth and the gums. As the pockets deepen, the bone structure supporting the teeth can be destroyed.
What Are the Signs?
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums.
- Gums that have receded or shrunken away from your teeth.
- Pus between your teeth when you press your gums with your fingers.
- Calculus or tartar buildup.
- Teeth that seem loose or that have changed position.
- Changes in your bite.
- Bad breath or a chronic bad taste in your mouth.
How Can I Tell If I Have Gum Disease?
A thorough oral evaluation, including x-rays, and a periodontal probing (we use a specialized instrument to measure the depth of the pocket between the tooth and the gum tissue) is crucial to diagnosing periodontal disease. This exam will allow us to determine the precise location, extent and severity of your gum disease and to guide you with the treatment options that would be best for your individual situation.