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Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a progressive condition and the leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults in the developed world.  Periodontal disease occurs when the toxins found in plaque begin to irritate or inflame the gingiva (gum tissue).  The resulting bacterial infection often known as gingivitis, can eventually lead to the destruction of the gum tissue and underlying bone.  If periodontal disease is not treated, it can also lead to loose teeth or tooth loss.

There are many common types of periodontal disease including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases.  Each of these types of periodontal disease has its own distinct characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt treatment by a dentist to halt subsequent bone and tissue loss.

Common Signs & Symptoms

It is extremely important to note that periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms such as pain.  This is why regular dental checkups are exceptionally important. Described below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of periodontitis.

If you have any of these signs or symptoms, the advice of a general dentist or periodontist should be sought as soon as possible:

  • Unexplained bleeding – Bleeding when brushing, flossing or eating food is one of the most common symptoms of a periodontal infection.  The toxins in plaque cause a bacterial infection which makes the tissues prone to bleeding.

  • Pain, redness or swelling – A periodontal infection may be present if the gums are swollen, red or painful for no apparent reason.  It is essential to halt the progression of the infection before the gum tissue and jaw bone have been affected.  It is also critical to treat the infection before it is carried into the bloodstream to other areas of the body.

  • Longer-looking teeth – Periodontal disease can lead to gum recession.  The toxins produced by bacteria can destroy the supporting tissue and bones, thus making the teeth look longer and the smile appear more “toothy.”

  • Bad breath/halitosis – Although breath odor can originate from the back of the tongue, the lungs and stomach, the food we consume, or from tobacco use, bad breath can also be caused by old food particles that sit between the teeth and underneath the gumline. The deeper gum pockets are able to house more debris and bacteria, causing a foul odor.

  • Loose teeth/change in bite pattern – A sign of rapidly progressing periodontitis is the loosening or shifting of the teeth in the affected area.  As the bone tissue gets destroyed, teeth that were once firmly attached to the jawbone become loose or may shift in position.

  • Pus – Pus oozing from between the teeth is a definitive sign that a periodontal infection is in progress.  The pus is a result of the body trying to fight the bacterial infection.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease

It is of paramount importance to halt the progression of periodontal disease before it causes further damage to the gum tissues and jawbone.  The dentist will initially assess the whole mouth in order to ascertain the progress of the disease.  When a diagnosis has been made, the dentist may treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics in conjunction with nonsurgical or surgical treatment or both.

In the case of moderate periodontal disease, the pockets (under the gumline) of the teeth will be completely cleared of debris using a procedure called scaling and root planing.  The pockets may be filled with antibiotics to promote good healing and kill any bacteria that remain.

Severe periodontitis can be treated in several different ways, such as:

  • Laser treatment – This can be used to reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and the gums.

  • Tissue & bone grafting – Where a considerable amount of bone or gum tissue has been destroyed, the dentist may elect to graft new tissue by inserting a membrane to stimulate tissue growth.

  • Pocket elimination surgery – The dentist may choose to perform “flap surgery” to directly reduce the size of the gum pockets.

If you have any further questions about the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, please contact us!

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Testimonials

I just had to write to say how appreciative I am of Dr. Tsui. If you are looking for a dentist, look no further. She is kind, caring and does an amazing job. She makes sure there is no pain and does each job to perfection. I recently had a dental emergency and she was there in no time. On top of all of that, her office is like a spa with water falls and fountains. They have the glasses for you to watch a movie, which are a great distraction. The staff is stellar!!! The nicest staff of people I have ever meet, so professional and personable at the same time. I recommend Dr. Tsui to all my friends, I can't say enough wonderful things about her and her amazing staff.

Ashley F. (Patient gave permission for publication).

I've been a patient of Dr. Tsui's since Smile Creations first opened their doors in 2003. My parents and younger sister see Dr. Tsui as well, and all of us are pleased with the services we've received. My parents have received major work (crowns) and all of us have had cleanings, exams, and fillings done. Dr. Tsui's office is equipped with the latest technologies--digital x-rays, an intraoral camera, and video glasses so you can watch movies as you receive dental work. My parents have recently had more crowns done and in just one visit, Dr. Tsui completed the crown prep work on my parents and they waited in the office while the actual permanent crown was being made right in the office! I've never heard of other dental practices with this technology! My parents didn't need a temporary crown and they didn't need a second visit where crowns are typically sent to labs which can take 2 weeks on average. A call from Dr. Tsui's office is made the next day to check on the healing process and to answer any questions. My parents are quick to point out what a stellar job Dr. Tsui does when it comes to giving anesthetic injections. A numbing topical is applied first, and after a few minutes, Dr. Tsui will carefully and skillfully proceed with the injection into the cheek and gums. She talks you through the whole way so you know what's going on. I have a low pain tolerance and hate needles so she definitely eases my fears through her gentleness and I walk away thinking that the injection hurt less than expected! Dr. Tsui works with a range of patients from the elderly to adolescents. The bi-lingual (English and Chinese) speaking staff including Dr. Tsui herself, allows her to relate and work with multiple generations of people. I have only positive kudos and express my sincere thanks for the gentle and professional dental work that my family and I have received from Dr. Tsui and her staff. I would highly recommend Dr. Tsui for any and all dental care needs.

Andrea W.(Patient gave permission for publication).

Dear Dr. Tsui,

I want to thank you again for all of the great dental care you have provided to me over the years. As you know, I was referred to you years ago by my friend and former co-worker. She raved about how great you and your staff are. I started going to you for dental care about 6 or 7 years ago. 2 of those years, I was forced to change my dental insurance coverage and had to find a different dentist. I went to 2 or 3 different offices trying to find a good patient/doctor relationship....and, frankly, never did. When I went back to an insurer that included you in the network, I was so happy that I could continue my dental care with you.

As you know, I have had the need for 2 crowns recently. Although I can't say I enjoyed the experience, I can say that you and your staff made it as pleasant as possible and I have great confidence in the work that you do. You and your staff have consisently practiced thoroughness, attention to detail and excellent communication (before, during and after procedures). It is very obvious that you truly care about your patients' dental health and their comfort when having their teeth worked on. That makes such a big difference in patient care and I greatly appreciate it! I am happy with the work that you have done for my crowns and I will continue to go to you for any future work that may be needed.

Smile Creations is a wonderful dental care practice! Now, I am the one raving about you and your staff and I have encouraged numerous people to go to you for dental work. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Cathy D.(Patient gave permission for publication).

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