How do I know if I have some form of gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic inflammatory and infectious disease. Often there may not be signs or symptoms until the disease is well into the advanced stages unless you are routinely examined by a dentist. Below is a list of all possible, more acute symptoms of moderate to advanced periodontal or gum disease.
1) Halitosis (bad breath)
2) Loose teeth, bite changes
3) bleeding gums
4) painful gums
5) puffy, red gums
6) pain when chewing
7) pussy discharge from the gums
8) gums pulling away from teeth (gum recession) and noticeably longer teeth.
9) bad taste
10) noticeable gaps between teeth (“black triangle” appearance)
This picture is a good example of a patient in the advanced stages of periodontal disease. Note the gum recession and “black triangles” between the teeth, as well as the puffy, bleeding gums.
Some less obvious symptoms and signs of periodontal disease in the moderate to advanced stages may be chronic fatigue, swelling of the lymph nodes, or the inability to control blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Since periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, it takes a tremendous amount of energy for the body to “control it”. The immune system is constantly being taxed in an effort to rid the body of infection. The bacteria involved in periodontal diseases are pathogenic, meaning they are harmful to the body, causing infection.
While periodontal disease is characterized by a chronic infection leading to chronic inflammation in some, it is the actual inflammatory process (an upregulated or exaggerated inflammatory response) which leads to more advanced bone and tissue loss around the teeth. The body is so efficient at ridding itself of this infection -for survival purposes – that the infection/inflammation process will often continue if no professional treatment is pursued, until the affected tooth is extruded by the body (the tooth falls out).
New research is proving that the old model of “infection leading to chronic inflammation” may actually be the other way around in many individuals. Chronic hyper-inflammatory response ( “hyper-responder”) in many susceptible individuals may actually lead to a chronic infections.
These individuals are prone to inflammatory periodontal disease. Traditional approaches will not generally stop the infection, especially long term. Read more about genetic tendencies.
To determine if you have periodontal disease we highly recommend a professional examination, including full mouth x-rays and periodontal charting, by a gum specialist, or periodontist. These professionals have many years of specialized training beyond dental school and are able to reach a more accurate diagnosis. If you have been “maintaining” your chronic periodontal disease (infection) in a general dental practice with maintenance cleanings, and you have the moderate to advanced stages of gum disease, it is imperative to seek more specialized professional help.
Lack of proper diagnosis and definitive intervention of periodontal disease can lead to serious, even life threatening, and very expensive health problems as we now know. But the millions of dollars spent “replacing teeth lost to periodontitis” is often overlooked.
Below is a picture of extractions from a single day in a periodontal specialty practice:
All of the individuals who lost these teeth had routine dental cleanings and maintenance in a general dental practice. The cause of tooth loss is multi factorial, but nearly all of this is preventable with more advanced technology and intervention.
This blog is filled with detailed information as to what causes tooth loss and the limitations of main stream approaches to arresting or curing periodontal diseases. We encourage you to explore all of this objective information.