When it comes to periodontal disease, the cliche “prevention is better than cure” always holds true, especially since you can actually detect the disease yourself. While some cases of periodontal disease may progress subtly, it is not entirely without any warning signs.
To catch this oral health problem before it gets worse, it is recommended that you check your mouth daily as part of your oral healthcare routine.
Here are the changes that you should look for when checking your mouth for signs of periodontal disease.
Red, swollen gums
The normal color of the gum tissue may vary, but it is most often described as coral pink. Gingivitis, the early form of periodontal disease, is characterized as having gums that are red and swollen. At this stage, the condition is still reversible and can be solved by professional cleaning and improved oral hygiene.
Smooth, shiny Gums:
Aside from the coral pink color, another characteristic that distinguishes between health and disease is the textured surface of the gums, which is referred to as being stippled. Stippling gives the gum tissue its characteristic orange peel appearance.
Periodontal diseases cause the gums to swell and appear smooth and shiny due to loss of stippling. Take note that in some individuals, stippling may not be present. This doesn’t mean that they have gum disease. Absence of stippling is an indicator of gingivitis only when it is present before.
Bleeding upon Slight Manipulation:
The most tell-tale sign of gum disease is bleeding of gums upon slight manipulation, like when brushing or flossing your teeth. It occurs because of the dilation of blood vessels on the gum margins as part of the inflammatory response to fight the invading bacteria from plaque.
Dilated blood vessels increase blood flow to the inflamed area, allowing for faster delivery of immune cells and nutrients on the site of infection.
Amount of Plaque Deposits:
Plaque is the main causative factor for periodontal disease. And it follows that the more plaque deposits you have, the greater your chance is for acquiring this oral health problem. Plaque harbors bacteria that elicit inflammatory reaction, causing the gums to become swollen. Thus, to prevent periodontal disease, it is extremely important to get rid of plaque either by professional cleaning or daily oral hygiene routine.
Persistent Bad Breath:
Bad breath is often associated with periodontal disease, especially if too much calcular deposits, a.k.a. tartar, are present. Tartar has a rough surface that encourages further plaque accumulation. The more plaque there is, the more bacteria are present which can release chemicals that cause the foul odor.
The easiest way to get rid of bad breath is to have your teeth professionally-cleaned, as simple brushing and flossing will not get rid of the hardened deposits.
As gingivitis progresses into a more advanced form of periodontal disease, the complications become even more severe and often irreversible. One of these complications is gum recession, which pertains to gum tissue pulling away from the teeth and shrinking, causing the tooth roots to become exposed.
You’ll know that there is gum recession already if your teeth start to appear longer than it normally does, and if you begin to experience tooth sensitivity.
If periodontal disease is left untreated, it would result to the teeth becoming loose or mobile. One or more teeth can become involved. Eventually, the involved teeth may separate to create spaces between them. They may also drift away from their original position causing a change the way your teeth touch each other when you bite, or the fit of your partial dentures if you wear one. In worse cases, the affected teeth may even fall off.
If you notice any of the symptoms above, especially the last ones, consult your dentist as soon as you can to prevent periodontal disease from getting even worse and to allow proper treatment to be rendered. Treatment will depend on how severe the disease already is.
Gingivitis requires only routine scaling and polishing, while the more advanced form called periodontitis needs more extensive treatment. Once treatment is done, be sure to follow your dentist’s recommendations on self-performed plaque control measures. And have your teeth checked on a regular basis by your periodontist to detect oral health problems before they get worse.