Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about periodontal disease? We have answers!
- What are the most common symptoms associated with periodontal disease? With periodontal disease, the most common signs and symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums;
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods;
- Receding gums or gums pulling away from your teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before;
- Loose or separated teeth;
- Pus between your gums and teeth;
- Mouth sores;
- Persistent bad breath;
- Recent bite misalignment;
- Recent partial dentures misalignment.
But perhaps the biggest issue with periodontal disease is that it is often silent, not presenting any symptoms before reaching an advanced stage. So, make sure to contact us the moment you notice something is off!
- Is there a connection between periodontitis (gum disease) and non-oral diseases? Yes, there is. There have been several studies linking gum disease to diseases like heart disease and diabetes…Click to read more in a new window…, with researchers suspecting that inflammation may be the reason behind this relationship.
- What is the difference between plaque and calculus? Plaque is that sticky, colorless film that always forms on teeth. In that plaque lives bacteria, secreting acids that cause tooth decay and irritate gum tissue. From this irritation comes an inflammatory reaction, eventually leading to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
When you don’t brush your teeth and floss regularly, that residual plaque hardens and creates calculus (also referred to as tartar). Unlike regular plaque, calculus can’t be removed at home with a toothbrush; you have to make a dental appointment to remove it (usually during oral cleaning).
To prevent plaque (and the calculus that follows it), make sure you brush your teeth twice every day and don’t neglect those regular dental check-ups!
- Can children develop gum disease? Children develop gum disease exceptionally rarely, and even adolescents seldom catch it. That being said, you should still very much teach your children proper oral hygiene to make sure they don’t develop periodontitis down the road.
Just like adults, children should also floss regularly and brush their teeth twice every day. In fact, the earlier they learn how to do that, the more likely they are to stick with it for life. These two very simple acts (flossing and brushing teeth regularly) will almost always prevent periodontal disease.
Of course, as a parent, you should still learn those gum disease warning signs we’ve outlined in the first question (including red, swollen, and bleeding gums or bad breath that won’t go away).
If you notice any of these signs in your child, make sure to contact us right away. Also, make sure to bring your complete family history with you (if possible) – current studies suggest that periodontal disease is influenced by heredity.
- Besides diagnosing and treating periodontal disease, what else do periodontists do? Quite a few more procedures indeed! To start with, we (periodontists) install dental implants when saving those natural teeth is no longer an option. We also monitor the implants to make sure they’re doing their job.
Aside from that, periodontists can correct gum recession and hide exposed root surfaces that are not only unsightly but also sensitive to hot and cold.
It’s these very procedures that enable most cosmetic dentistry treatments, helping you reach that beautiful, picture-perfect smile you always wanted.
Last but not least, periodontists can (and should!) play an important role in the comprehensive planning of your oral care, along with your general dentist or another dental professional.
- Who should treat my gum disease: a general dentist or a periodontist? Because periodontists have to complete additional specialized periodontics training (at least two years) and because they always have more experience with periodontal disease, periodontists are usually better equipped to handle it. Having said that, you can have both a general dentist and a periodontist actively involved in your diagnosis and treatment.
- I was diagnosed with gum disease not long ago. How often should I see my periodontist? Regular check-ups are very important to keep an eye on the disease and any disease progression over time. We’ll work with you to create a maintenance schedule depending on how advanced your periodontal disease is at that time.
Based on your overall health, bone loss, and risk factors like smoking and genetics, we’ll make sure to tailor your care so that your periodontal disease doesn’t progress further.
- What does board-certified mean in regard to periodontists? To go with dental school, every periodontist must spend another two to three years completing additional specialized periodontics training. Besides that, some periodontists choose to take a board certification examination, offered by the American Board of Periodontology once per year.
With it, a board certification in periodontology is granted only to those who have made significant achievements beyond the above-mentioned mandatory educational requirements. These include demonstrating a comprehensive mastery of all phases of periodontal disease and treatment and in the placement of dental implants.
- Is periodontal disease contagious? As we’ve discussed before, periodontal disease is caused by the inflammatory reaction to bacteria under the gums. So, technically speaking, the disease is not contagious. That said, the bacteria that cause that inflammatory reaction can spread through saliva. So, we wouldn’t recommend sharing eating utensils or oral health equipment with someone who has gum disease. Instead, when you see those warning signs, advise them to see a periodontist.
- Should I worry about missing teeth? In a word – yes. As much as you might dread visiting a periodontist, not replacing missing teeth is never a good idea.
The thing is, there’s a fine-tuned balance to your teeth’ position. They don’t erupt and drift backward and forward thanks to the pressure that the adjacent and opposing teeth apply to each other.
But, when one or more teeth are missing, the opposing jaw lacks that opposing force every time you bite. So, because that opposing force is now gone, nothing is stopping the opposing teeth from drifting into the new gap.
And the headaches and jaw joint issues that always come with it in the future are just not worth it.
Also, there’s a substantial esthetics component to it. Not only will your smile be affected by those gaps from missing teeth, but if you’re missing too many teeth, the skin around your mouth won’t be supported properly and will start to sag, making you appear older than you are.