Beginning of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease begins when the toxins found in plaque start to attack the soft or gingival tissue surrounding the teeth. This bacterium embeds itself in the gum and rapidly breeds, causing a bacterial infection. As the infection progresses, it starts to burrow deeper into the tissue causing inflammation or irritation between the teeth and gums. The response of the body is to destroy the infected tissue, which is why the gums appear to recede. The resulting pockets between the teeth deepen, and if no treatment is sought, the tissue which makes up the jawbone also recedes, causing unstable teeth and tooth loss.
Referrals from General Dentists and Self Referral
There are several ways treatment from a periodontist may be sought. In the course of a regular dental check-up, if the general dentist or hygienist finds symptoms of gingivitis or rapidly progressing periodontal disease, a consultation with a periodontist may be recommended. However, a referral is not necessary for a periodontal consultation.
If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, it is important that you schedule an appointment with a periodontist without delay:
- Bleeding while eating or brushing – Unexplained bleeding while consuming food or during daily cleaning is one of the most common signs of periodontal infection.
- Bad breath – Continued halitosis (bad breath), which persists even when a rigorous oral hygiene program is in place, can be indicative of periodontitis, gingivitis, or the beginnings of an infection in the gum tissues.
- Loose teeth and gum recession – Longer looking teeth can signal recession of the gums and bone loss due to periodontal disease. As this disease progresses and attacks the jawbone (the anchor holding the teeth in place), the teeth may become loose or be lost altogether.
- Gangrene in the tissues – Gangrene is hard to self diagnose, but the general dentist and periodontist will check for its presence in the soft tissues, alveolar bone, and periodontal ligament.
- Related health conditions – Heart disease, diabetes, osteopenia, and osteoporosis are highly correlated with periodontitis and periodontal infections. The bacteria infection can spread through the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body.