How Do I Know If I Have Periodontal Disease?​​​​​​​

How Do I Know If I Have Periodontal Disease?​​​​​​​

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There are many different types of dental problem that can potentially affect us during our lifetime. One of the most common is a chronic inflammatory condition that is known as periodontal disease which, left untreated, could eventually compromise not only the appearance of your smile but also your oral and general health.

Causes of periodontal disease

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria present in plaque that has accumulated on the teeth begin to spread on to the soft tissue of the gums. The bacteria cause irritation which leads to the gums becoming red and sore, and further symptoms developing. Poor oral hygiene is therefore the biggest contributing factor to someone suffering from periodontal disease and your dentist will be sure to check for the presence of plaque or tartar at your regular dental appointments.

In addition to poor dental hygiene, there are some other things that could make someone more likely to suffer from the condition, including:

  • Smoking

  • A diagnosis of diabetes

  • Pregnancy, since hormonal changes can make the gums more vulnerable to plaque

  • Malnutrition

  • High levels of stress

  • A weakened immune system

  • Your age, since gum disease is more often diagnosed in older patients


What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?

The symptoms of periodontal disease are progressive which means that they worsen the longer the condition is left untreated. Unfortunately, the earliest signs of periodontal disease are fairly mild and easily overlooked or ignored. This means that by the time most patients seek professional help, the condition has begun to advance, and this can mean that irreversible damage has started to occur.


The very earliest stage of periodontal disease is often referred to as gingivitis and is characterized by:

  • Red and swollen gums

  • Gums that bleed after you have brushed or flossed your teeth


As the condition progresses it becomes known as periodontitis or periodontal disease. You may start to experience:

  • Bad breath

  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

  • Pain in and around your teeth

  • Gum abscesses (these are collections of pus that develop under your gums or teeth)

  • Teeth that become loose or fall out


The consequences of periodontal disease

What many people don’t realize is that in addition to the unpleasant and somewhat debilitating symptoms listed above, there are other much more serious consequences to the development of periodontal disease.


The first is a loss of bone in your jaw. This occurs when the periodontal disease becomes so severe that teeth become loose and fall out. With no teeth to keep secure, the bone in the jaw deteriorates. This can affect the shape and definition of your face and make it harder to fit dental implants – the most popular tooth loss solution currently available.


The second major consequence of periodontal disease is infection and the effect this can have on your wider health. Periodontal disease is caused by infection-causing bacteria that destroy gum tissue and eventually your jaw bone. However, these bacteria can also pass into the bloodstream, using it as a highway to get around your body to your major organs. Studies have found a definitive link between patients with advanced periodontal disease and health problems including heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and more. By preventing periodontal disease, you are taking positive steps towards ensuring your overall health and wellbeing.

Treating periodontal disease

Maintaining an excellent oral hygiene routine is the best way to both prevent periodontal disease and treat it. In the early stages, making additional effort to take proper care of your teeth can even reverse the early symptoms and keep your smile in good health. However, if the condition has progressed then your dentist may recommend specific treatments that could include:

  • A scale and polish. This targets removing plaque and tartar from the teeth.

  • Root planing. This deep clean targets under the gums so that bacteria can be effectively removed from the roots of the teeth.

  • Antibiotics to help deal with any infection.

  • Extraction of the affected tooth.


If you are concerned that you may have periodontal disease, don’t delay in seeking professional assistance. Please contact our office today in Arlington. Virgina to schedule an assessment by one of our experienced dental team. Arlington Smile Design is open Monday - Fridays. Give us a call today to schedule your appointment. We can be reached at 703-841-0300.