For many people, simply getting to the dentist for an annual (or preferably bi-annual) checkup can be a challenge. So if you’ve been told recently that it’s time to see a periodontist, it’s possible that you might not know what that means. But we’ve got good news: the more knowledgeable you become, the more effectively you can take care of your oral health.
A periodontist is a specialized dentist who deals with issues relating to gum (periodontal) disease and the placement of dental implants. Unfortunately, periodontal disease is a very common condition; more than half of all adults over age 30 suffer from some form of it.
If left untreated, periodontal disease can progress in unsightly and uncomfortable ways, causing the teeth to fall out over time. A periodontist can help you to prevent this outcome and guide you through the dental implant process if necessary. Simply put, a periodontist is a dentist who treats the gums.
There are a number of signs that should alert you that you may have a developing gum problem. Visiting a periodontist is the only surefire way to know whether you’re in the clear or not.
Reason 1: Red gums. Red, swollen, bleeding gums are a sign of active disease. Oftentimes, people notice this when brushing and flossing. It’s never too soon to get it checked out by a professional! The sooner you have gum disease treated, the better your long-term outcomes and the lower your likelihood of having more problems down the road.
Reason 2: Chronic bad breath. If you often have bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth, that is an indication of bacteria buildup. Bacteria produce toxins that cause bad breath and a sour taste in your mouth, even after brushing.
Reason 3: Gum recession or shifting teeth. When you notice that your teeth have become more visible along your gum line, that’s a sign that the bacteria is eating away at the tissue around your teeth. Because this happens gradually, it’s not uncommon for people to miss this symptom. You may also notice your teeth shifting out of normal alignment or feeling loose. That’s a strong indicator that you need to get to a periodontist because you may be well on your way to losing a tooth!
Reason 4: Pain when eating. At a more advanced stage of periodontitis, bacteria settle into pockets in your gums. The presence of bacteria causes an infection around the tooth root, leading to pain in and around the tooth and gum.
Reason 5: Tooth sensitivity to extreme temperatures. If temperature sensitivity is your only symptom, you could be experiencing some other dental problem such as a fracture or cavity. But when accompanied by gum recession, or other symptoms listed above, it’s likely that the disease has eroded your gums, further exposing your root. At that point, your teeth will become very sensitive to temperature changes, whether hot or cold.
If one or more of the above symptoms has resonated with you, it’s time to contact a periodontist. This is best first step you can take if you are concerned about gum disease. Schedule a consultation with one of our periodontists at Penn Dental Family Practice by calling 215-898-PDFP(7337) today.
Second, you can educate yourself about how to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Learn about dietary choices that promote healing and decrease inflammation. You can also keep learning what a periodontist dentist is and how they can help.
Third, eliminate risk factors for the disease as far as you can. Smoking is a high predictor of gum disease, and quitting is the best action you can take to save both your gums and teeth. If you don’t already do so, get into the habit of brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day to keep bacteria away.