How to Identify the Early Signs of Periodontal Disease

Identifying Signs of Periodontal Disease
Image Credit – Emily frost/

Periodontal disease is one of the most significant threats to long-term dental health. Thanks to several effective gum disease treatments, managing periodontitis is possible. However, the earlier our Marietta dental team can identify the issue, the less extensive the treatment needed will be. Before looking at the early warning signs it’s important to understand what periodontal disease is, and its potential severity.

How to Protect Your Gums From Periodontal Disease

While the reasons to visit your dentist on a routine basis are numerous, one of the most important reasons is to ensure that your gums stay healthy. In fact, did you know that according to a 2010 study from the CDC, roughly 47% of American adults have mild to moderate periodontal disease? That begs the obvious question: what are the early warning signs of periodontal disease, and can periodontal disease be reversed?

In this article, we’re going to share with you a few things you can look for to determine whether or not you may have some form of gum disease. By catching periodontal disease early you’re much more likely to keep it under control. Also, visiting a dental office for your routine cleaning is paramount if you want to keep your mouth healthy and avoid any complex or difficult-to-treat dental issues down the road.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Simply put, periodontal disease (a term often used synonymously with gum disease) is an infection of the structures that surround the teeth, which is primarily the gums, but also includes the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone (which is the bone structure that contains your tooth sockets).

When the areas around your teeth become infected, periodontal disease is the result. There are actually three different stages of periodontal disease.

Stage 1. Gingivitis

The earliest stage of gum/periodontal disease is called gingivitis, which is also referred to as “moderate periodontal disease” or “stage 1 periodontal disease.” Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums caused by a buildup of plaque. It is one of the early warning signs of gum disease.

The reason it is so important to catch periodontal disease at this early state is because gingivitis can be reversed since it hasn’t yet reached the bone or connective tissue.

So if you are noticing any signs of gingivitis such as bleeding gums or a buildup of plaque, it’s important to schedule your next dental appointment as soon as possible. Fortunately, the most effective gum disease treatments can prevent this issue from progressing to the next stage of the disease.

If you are in or around the Marietta, GA area, then please contact our office at Shining Smiles Family Dentistry to schedule your appointment with Dr. Shaila Mohip-Chahwala.

Stage 2. Periodontitis

Once you move into the second stage of periodontal disease (known as periodontitis), the damage that has occurred to your teeth and gums thus far cannot be reversed. So if you’re wondering whether or not moderate periodontitis is reversible, the answer is most likely no (the damage has already been done).

The reason? If your gum disease has reached the point that it can be diagnosed as periodontitis, it means the supporting structures (bones, sockets, etc.) have been impacted.

While this sounds like terrible news, it’s not the end of the world. If you have periodontitis you can prevent further damage by adopting a solid oral hygiene routine at home, avoiding certain foods and beverages that damage your teeth and gums, and seeing a dentist every six months.

Stage 3. Advanced Periodontitis

When you see individuals who have severe tooth decay or are missing teeth (signs of advanced periodontitis), they are likely in the advanced stage of periodontitis. At this point, the bone supporting your teeth (and the surrounding structures) is completely destroyed.

This means that your teeth can shift and even fall out. At this point, many patients opt for a dental implant restoration, which is a procedure that we perform routinely at our Powder Springs dental practice.

If you feel you may be in the advanced stage of periodontitis, here is some information on dental implants that you may find useful.

If you’re left wondering whether or not gum disease, periodontitis or advanced periodontal disease can be reversed, it’s best to make an appointment with your dentist for an evaluation.

5 Warning Signs of Gum Disease

Here Are the 5 Early Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease:

1. Red, Swollen or Tender Gums

Healthy gums are a nice, “comfortable-looking” pink color. If you notice that your gums are an “angry red” color, that could be a possible sign of gum disease. Sure, not everyone’s gums are the exact same color, but if you notice that yours are redder than they have been in the past, it’s time to see a dentist to get evaluated.

2. Your Gums Bleed When You Brush

Contrary to what many people believe, gums bleeding while brushing your teeth isn’t normal. It likely means that you are either in the early stages of gum disease (gingivitis) or you are brushing with way too much force. If you find that your gums constantly bleed while you brush (even after you start brushing a little softer), you should see a dentist immediately. Remember, if caught early enough, gum disease is reversible so it isn’t something you want to wait on to get checked!

3. You Have Sores in Your Mouth

Mouth sores can be anything from harmless (although very painful) canker sores to very serious illnesses such as mouth cancer. They are also a common symptom of periodontal disease. Bottom line: if you are experiencing any kind of mouth sores, seeing a dentist is a good idea. Again, if you are in Marietta or the surrounding area, please give Shining Smiles Family Dentistry a call today to schedule your appointment and get evaluated for gum disease.

4. Your Teeth Seem to Have Shifted or Fit Together Differently

It isn’t normal for teeth to shift in the mouth. If you find that your teeth are shifting or they fit together differently when you bite down, it could be a sign of periodontal disease. On the other hand, a bite that is “off” is also a common sign of TMJ. So, if you think you may have TMJ, you can visit our page on TMJ by clicking here.

5. Loose Teeth

If you have teeth that are loose or have fallen out, you could have an advanced form of gum disease called advanced periodontitis. At this point, your gums and the surrounding tissue and bone have been impacted and the damage is irreversible. That being said, there’s still hope and you aren’t without options. At Shining Smiles Family Dentistry, we routinely place dental implants and crowns for patients who have lost some or all of their teeth. You have nothing to be ashamed of and we have a solution that will restore your smile and self-confidence!

How Does a Dentist Diagnose Periodontal Disease?

Dentists typically use the following approaches to diagnose periodontal disease. When required, a series of restorative dentistry treatments are available to tackle the issue.

  • Patients receive a comprehensive examination to identify signs of bleeding gums or tooth decay.
  • A dental probe is used to measure the pockets between the teeth and gums for signs of periodontitis.
  • Your dentist will take an X-ray for a closer look at possible bone damage or enlarged pockets.
  • Your dentist will discuss common risk factors like smoking or a poor diet that may contribute to gum disease.

Trusted Periodontal Disease Treatments in Marietta

Shining Smiles Family Dentistry offers treatments for gum disease, tooth decay and other common dental issues. If you identify an early sign of periodontal disease, contact our Marietta office for assistance. Call (770) 420-8550 or request a dental appointment today.

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