The Silent Threat: Understanding Periodontal Disease and How to Defend Your Smile

By Dr. James Forester | Feb 20, 2024 | Gum/Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease icons set

Your smile is a uniquely powerful asset, but its beauty goes beyond aesthetics. Indeed, a healthy and beautiful smile plays a crucial role in your overall well-being. However, the oral cavity is a hotbed of microbial activity. While not all oral bacteria are harmful, some can lead to periodontal disease, a condition that affects the supporting structures of your teeth. Luckily, restorative treatments with a Johns Creek dentist can help preserve your grin for years to come.

Keeping your teeth and gums healthy is key to preventing devastating issues in the future. So, take charge of your oral health with the help of Dr. James G. Forrester at Lifetime Smiles in Johns Creek, GA. You can request dental exams and explore gum disease treatment by calling (770) 232-1830 today.

In today’s blog post, Dr. Forrester dives into the intricacies of periodontal disease. Here, our team explores its symptoms, causes, available treatments, and effective prevention strategies.

Understanding Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (most commonly known as gum disease) is a sneaky, inflammatory condition that affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth (i.e. the gums). 

The disease often progresses silently, with many patients experiencing little to no noticeable symptoms at first. However, gum disease advances in stages, with gingivitis being the initial and reversible stage, and advanced periodontitis being the severe and irreversible stage.

This condition is remarkably common among the adult population, as experts estimate that around 40% of all adults aged 30 and older exhibit some sign of the disease. If ignored, gum disease can become a major problem, often resulting in pain, infections, and even tooth loss.

Common Symptoms

There are plenty of symptoms that could indicate advancing periodontal disease. However, some of the most common signs include:

Pain or Discomfort

Individuals with periodontal disease may experience sensitivity or discomfort in the gums, especially during activities such as chewing or biting. This discomfort can range from a mild ache to more severe pain, depending on the stage of the disease.

Swollen or Puffy Gums

In addition to redness, the gums may become visibly swollen or puffy. This is a result of the immune system’s inflammatory response to fight bacterial infections. 

Pus Between Gums and Teeth 

Advanced stages of periodontal disease may lead to receding gums and deep pockets between the gums and teeth, allowing the accumulation of bacteria and pus. This can be a clear sign of infection and requires immediate attention from a dental professional.

Bleeding Gums During Routine Activities 

Ordinarily, brushing and flossing should not lead to bleeding gums. So, if bloody gums suddenly become the norm while brushing or flossing, this is a clear indication of inflammation and should not be ignored. Consistent bleeding during oral hygiene routines warrants a visit to the dentist for a comprehensive examination.

Changes in Bite or Jaw Alignment

As periodontal disease progresses, it can alter the stability of teeth and their alignment within the jaw. This may lead to noticeable changes in the bite, such as discomfort or difficulty when biting down

Changes in jaw alignment may also contribute to additional stress on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This can lead to increased pain and discomfort in the jaw area.

Recurring Mouth Sores 

Periodontal disease can make the oral environment more conducive to the development of mouth sores, such as canker sores. These sores may appear and persist, causing additional discomfort and complicating the overall health of the oral cavity.

Metallic Taste in the Mouth

Some individuals with advanced gum disease may experience a persistent metallic taste in their mouth. This can result from the presence of bacteria and pus, contributing to unpleasant breath and an altered taste sensation.

Common Causes

Many factors can lead to or worsen periodontal disease, including:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Inadequate or improper techniques while flossing and brushing allow plaque – a sticky biofilm of oral microbes – to accumulate on the teeth and gums, leading to gum inflammation.

Tobacco Use

Smoking or using other tobacco products is a significant risk factor for periodontal disease.

Genetics

Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to gum disease, making them more susceptible despite maintaining good oral hygiene.

Poor Nutrition

A diet that lacks essential nutrients and minerals can weaken the immune system and contribute to gum disease.

Chronic Illnesses 

Conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders can increase the risk of periodontal disease.

Available Treatments

Luckily, our Johns Creek dentist offers comprehensive treatments to combat periodontal disease, such as:

Professional Dental Cleanings

To prevent the progression of gum disease, we recommend routine dental cleanings with our friendly dental hygienists twice yearly. These appointments help remove plaque and tartar, preventing the progression of gum disease.

Scaling and Root Planing

This deep cleaning procedure eliminates plaque and tartar from below the gumline and smooths the tooth roots to promote healing.

Antibiotic Therapy 

Our Johns Creek dentist may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to control bacterial infection and reduce inflammation.

Surgical Interventions

In severe cases, our Johns Creek dentist may recommend surgical procedures (such as flap surgery or bone grafting) to repair damaged tissues and restore support to the teeth.

Lifestyle Modifications 

Quitting smoking, adopting a balanced diet, and managing systemic health conditions contribute to successful treatment outcomes.

Tips and Tricks for Preventing Periodontal Disease

The good news is that periodontal disease is completely avoidable for most patients. Here are a few tips and tricks for keeping gum tissue healthy:

Maintain Optimal Oral Hygiene 

Brushing and flossing are great ways to avoid plaque buildup and, subsequently, gum disease. Be sure to use a toothpaste with fluoride, and strive for twice daily brushing and once daily flossing

Regular Dental Check-Ups 

In addition to proper brushing and flossing, frequent dental check-ups and cleanings help prevent gum issues by detecting and addressing any signs of gum disease in its early stages.

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

Quit smoking or using tobacco products, and adopt a nutritious diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support overall oral health.

Manage Stress 

Persistent, long-term stress can weaken the immune system, making the body more susceptible to infections, including gum disease. We recommend practicing stress-alleviating techniques such as meditation or yoga.

Stay Hydrated 

Water truly is the elixir of life, so be sure to drink at least 64 ounces daily. Frequently drinking water helps flush away bacteria and debris, maintaining a clean oral environment.

Periodontal Disease Treatment in Johns Creek, GA

Periodontal disease may be a common threat, but armed with knowledge and proactive oral care, you can defend your smile against its detrimental effects. But, even with optimal oral hygiene and lifestyle changes, it is still paramount to visit a dentist yearly for gum disease prevention. To keep your smile in tip-top shape, schedule an appointment with Dr. Forrester at Lifetime Smiles by calling (770) 232-1830 now