Who Needs a Periodontist?
Healthy gums hold teeth firmly in place. Periodontal disease, which literally means ‘disease around the tooth,’ is caused by plaque on the gum line that hardens into tartar and becomes infective.
Over time, the infection attacks the gum tissue that is holding and protecting your teeth. This is the first stage of periodontal disease known as gingivitis, and is characterized by red gums which bleed easily after brushing.
If you don’t have gingivitis treated, it can turn into periodontal disease, which weakens the bone support for your teeth and will eventually result in the loss of the tooth.
Periodontal disease has also been linked to a number of other diseases including diabetes, heart disease and low birth weight of babies. That’s why we recommend treating periodontal disease quickly and thoroughly.
Periodontal Disease: Prevention and Intervention
The best way to avoid periodontal disease is to make a concerted effort to look after your gums. This includes brushing properly twice a day, flossing once a day and visiting us at least twice a year.
If we spot periodontal disease, our first course of action will be to remove as much of the tartar as we can so you can nurse your gums back to health (it’s often reversible). If that doesn’t work, one of our on-site periodontists, Dr. Ron Zohar or Dr. Stephen Goldman, can recommend a number of surgical or non-surgical options.
Recognizing the Symptoms
The good thing about periodontal disease is that it’s very easy to spot. Every evening when you brush and floss, look for the following:
- a change in the colour of your gums (redness)
- blood on your toothbrush or floss
- puffy gums
You can also keep an eye out for symptoms throughout the day. While these could be indicative of other conditions, periodontal disease will most likely be the culprit:
- persistent bad breath
- a metallic taste in your mouth
- overly sensitive teeth
Periodontal disease risk factors
Age: In Canada, seven out of ten people will eventually have gum disease. The better care you take of your gums, the more likely you’ll be one of the three.
Smoking: This has been shown to be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
Genetics: Some people are predisposed to gum disease. If the marker is identified, we can begin preventative treatment.
Stress: Many periodontal diseases are infections and stress can magnify the damage caused by infections.
Certain medications: Oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines are among the biggest offenders. Be sure to tell us about any new drugs you’ve started since your last visit.
Bruxism: This is the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth, and it leads to a weakening of the gums and supporting tissues.
Poor nutrition: The healthier you are, the better able you are to fight off infection anywhere in your body.