There is an old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Does this apply to periodontal disease?
Absolutely not. Because periodontal disease is generally not painful it is often detected too late. Go to your dentist and ask him or her for a referral or a full periodontal evaluation. Alternately seek expert help yourself if you have any doubt.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the gums and supporting bone structure, which, if left untreated, can cause permanent jaw bone destruction and ultimately lead to tooth loss. Untreated periodontal disease has been linked to increased risk for conditions such as heart disease, stroke, low birth weight babies, pre-term delivery, respiratory disease, and prostate cancer. An advanced stage of periodontal disease exhibits inflamed gums pulling away from your bone and teeth. Other signs of periodontal disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Loose teeth or teeth that have moved
- Sensitive teeth
- Pus coming from around the teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
Treatment of early periodontal disease can be performed in-office. However, advanced stages may require surgery. Periodontal disease can be prevented and treated successfully by seeing your Periodontist, Dentist and Dental Hygienist regularly and following recommended care plans.
Does periodontal disease treatment hurt?
No. Not if it is skilfully performed. There are instances where we recommend that patients take medication, either an anti-inflammatory or painkillers, immediately following treatment to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Additionally, we offer a few anaesthetic and sedative options during treatment. Read about our Patient Comfort options here.
Is it expensive?
This depends on your individual perception and values. Many comparisons can be made in terms of relative worth. The decision is very personal.
What is a full periodontal evaluation?
International standards are:
- Medical history and dental history
- Full mouth charting and tooth by tooth evaluation
- Full mouth X-Rays where every tooth can be clearly seen
- Often colour images to monitor changes in the gum shape and position
- Sometimes additional records such as study models, CT scan
Why should I consider dental implants?
Dental implants are the ideal way to replace missing or weakened teeth. Most adult patients are good candidates for implants because they can help to prevent the remaining teeth from moving or loosening as a result. Implants serve as a good alternative to dentures for anyone with an otherwise healthy mouth and jaw.
Do I need a referral to see a periodontist?
No. You do not need a referral to see a periodontist, you can contact our receptionists for a consultation.
Why should I floss, isn’t brushing enough?
Brushing your teeth gets rid of some of the bacteria in your mouth. Flossing gets rid of the bacteria the toothbrush can’t get to. That’s the bacteria hiding in the tiny spaces between your teeth. If you do not floss, you allow plaque to remain between your teeth. Eventually it hardens into tartar. Plaque can be removed by brushing. If plaque and tartar is left on the tooth surface, it can lead to periodontitis and dental decay. Only the dentist/hygienist/ periodontist can remove tartar.
Ask your dentist to show you the proper way to floss. You will notice the difference at the next cleaning appointment.
What is fluoride and why is it important to dental health?
Fluoride is a mineral that occurs naturally in many foods and in water. Unfortunately, New Zealand has low natural levels of fluoride, therefore, some cities chose to add fluoride to drinking water to bring it up to international levels.
A lack of exposure to fluoride places individuals of any age at risk for dental decay. Fluoride is important to dental health because it helps prevent tooth decay by making your tooth enamel more resistant to acid attacks from plaque bacteria in your mouth. Other sources of fluoride are brewed tea, canned fish, cooked kale and spinach, apples, and skim milk. Most toothpastes will contain fluoride.
Studies have shown that children who consumed fluoridated water from birth had less dental decay. Fluoride can reverse early decay and help prevent osteoporosis, a disease that causes degenerative bone loss. Talk to us about whether you’re getting the daily amount of fluoride you need.
What causes morning breath?
When you are asleep, production of saliva in your mouth decreases. Since your saliva is the mouth’s natural mouthwash, a lot of people experience morning breath. Bacteria found on teeth, in the crevices and on the taste buds of the tongue, break down the food particles and as a bi-product produce sulfur compounds. It is actually these sulfur compounds which give our breath a bad odor. During the day, your saliva helps to wash away bacteria and food particles and at the same time also helps to dissolve the foul smelling sulfur compounds.
Chronic, long-term mouth odor can be a sign of more serious illness. Please let us know if this is a concern.
What can I do about sensitive teeth?
Sensitivity toothpaste, which contains strontium chloride or potassium nitrate are very effective in treating sensitive teeth. After a few weeks of use, you may notice a decrease in sensitivity. Highly acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits and lemons, as well as tea and soda can increase tooth sensitivity, and work against sensitivity toothpaste. If you do not get relief by brushing gently and using desensitizing toothpaste, please let us know. There are special compounds that can be applied in-office to the roots of your tooth to reduce – if not eliminate – the sensitivity. High-fluoride containing home care products can also be recommended to help reduce tooth sensitivity.
Ask any of the staff at Auckland Periodontics and Implants for more information on sensitive teeth.
What should I do about bleeding gums?
People often respond to bleeding gums with the wrong method of treatment. Usually, gums that bleed are a symptom of the onset of periodontal disease or gingivitis. But often, people stop brushing as frequently and effectively because it may be painful or it may cause the gums to bleed again. However, when gums are inflamed, brushing could help reduce the inflammation. More importantly, you should see your dentist, or periodontist, to have a periodontal screening and recording performed in order to determine the level of disease present and the best treatment course to pursue.
It is also worth noting that chronic dental pain and discomfort are obvious signs of a problem. Over-the-counter drugs may provide some temporary relief. These medications usually only mask the existence of a problem and should be taken on a temporary basis.
It is important to see your dentist, or periodontist, as soon as possible if your gums begin to bleed.
Does smoking affect my gum and supporting bone?
YES, smoking is a risk factor in periodontal disease. People who smoke up to 10 cigarettes a day are 3 times more likely to get periodontal disease. Those who smoke more than one half pack a day are 5 times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Smoking affects gum blood vessels and impairs the body’s defence mechanism.
If you want to stop smoking, there are a number of options available to you. You can call Quitline 0800 778 778 or visit their website: www.quit.org.nz
Smokestop is also a web-based resource to help you give up.
There are several drug based programs, you should discuss this with your doctor. You can look at the website for Champix, one of the drugs available.
You can read Allen Carr’s book “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” or visit his website.
I have diabetes. Why is my dentist concerned?
Research today suggests a link between gum disease and diabetes. Research has established that people with diabetes are more prone to gum disease, and more likely to lose teeth. Also, having untreated periodontitis leads to poorer blood glucose control. Like all infections, gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to rise and make diabetes harder to control. Be sure to see your dentist, or periodontist regularly for check-ups and follow home care recommendations. If you notice other conditions such as dry mouth or bleeding gums, be sure to talk with your dentist. And don’t forget to mention any changes in medications.
I just found out I am pregnant. How can this affect my mouth?
About half of women who are pregnant experience a condition called pregnancy gingivitis. This condition can be uncomfortable and cause swelling, bleeding, redness or tenderness in the gum tissue. A more advanced oral health condition called periodontal disease (a serious gum infection that destroys attachment fibers and supporting bone that hold teeth in the mouth) may affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown a relationship between periodontal disease and preterm, low birth-weight babies. In fact, pregnant women with periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that’s born too early and too small. The likely culprit is a laborinducing chemical found in oral bacteria called prostaglandin. Very high levels of prostaglandin are found in women with severe cases of periodontal disease.