Periodontal disease is an infection caused by bacteria that damages the gums, bone and ligaments supporting the teeth. Although this disease can easily be prevented by maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups, poor nutrition, smoking and medical issues such as diabetes are among the primary contributors towards this disease.
As in the case of many oral diseases caused by bacteria, you are usually the first person to notice that something is not right. Conduct your own initial visual dental inspection for swollen gums, tartar, signs of receding gums and changes in the color. You may also notice a lot of bleeding during brushing and flossing. If you observe any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you see your dentist and have yourself screened for periodontal disease.
Your dentist can clinically detect this disease using a ‘Periodontal Probe’ to measure the depth of the gum pocket around your teeth. If gum pockets are deeper than usual, it is an indication of possible bone loss. Your dentist will also evaluate gum recession between your teeth, bad breath, bleeding gums and loose teeth.
If left untreated, the simple swelling in your gums can develop into Periodontitis, where the teeth become loose and fall out or have to be removed. However, good oral habits together with regular dental checkups will help you and your dentist evaluate the color and firmness of your gum, as well as how your teeth fit together while biting. Identifying periodontal disease in its early stages makes the treatment easier and effective.
The bone loss can also be seen on x-rays. Your dentist will conduct a number of clinical exams to detect it. Newer digital dental x-rays send a very low level of radiation and are safe. Another method to detect this disease is by the number of spots that bleed when the area is probed.
Once your dentist identifies all hidden abnormalities, he will prepare an accurate treatment plan. Maintaining good oral hygiene during and after the treatment will help stop the progression and minimize the recurrence of gum disease.