Gum disease is an active infection of the hard and soft tissues that surround the teeth. The gums, bones, and the microscopic ligaments that attach the gums and the bone together can be damaged when under attack by plaque bacteria.
When plaque and food particles are allowed to accumulate at the gumline and below the gums, the bacteria that are present in the mouth begin to produce toxic byproducts. It is during this time that the body’s immune system responds with inflammation. Typically, at this stage, proper brushing and flossing can effectively prevent the spread of infection.
When brushing and flossing are not performed frequently and thoroughly, the infection must be addressed by a periodontist. A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the treatment of the gums and bone that support the teeth. Specialized diagnostic tools such as x-rays and probing are used to evaluate the extent of the disease. Depending upon the degree of damage to the gums and bone, ultrasonic instruments and surgical intervention may be necessary in order to restore your periodontal health.
Early signs and symptoms of gum disease include puffy or swollen gums. Redness and bleeding may be noticed during brushing or flossing. Some patients also report a sense of tenderness in the gums during brushing or flossing. During a routine dental cleaning, tenderness or bleeding may also indicate the presence of infection.
A chronic bad taste or bad smell in the mouth may signal later stages of gum disease. It is common for patients with halitosis to report frequent gum chewing or the use of breath mints. Unfortunately, these remedies are no match for a true bacterial infection.
For the best chance at preventing the spread of gum disease, brush and floss after meals and consult your periodontist at the first sign of bleeding or inflammation. Remember that much of the damage caused by gum disease occurs below the gumline, hidden from your view.
Don’t ignore the very earliest warning signs. Call Dr. Stephen Weisglass, your periodontist serving Long Island, for your evaluation today.