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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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I have been a patient of Dr. Moskowitz for more than twenty years. I have had the privilege of knowing his professional and courteous staff as well. They have also treated many members of my family including four of my grandchildren currently. Over the years I have been continually impressed with the modern office facilities. It is always clean and very well maintained. The staff is made up of many familiar faces, some have been there since I started with the practice. They are current and up to date on their professional knowledge and always create a comfortable atomosphere whether my visit is a routine cleaning or a tooth repair. I would highly recommend Dr. Moskowitz to any patient looking for a knowledgeable, caring and friendly dental office. I couldn't imagine leaving my dental care to any other.

Ron S. Marlboro, NJ

I can personally attest to the type of dental practice that is run by Dr. Moskowitz. I recently had a sledding accident in the middle of a blizzard which shifted my front tooth. Dr. Moskowitz immediately braved the storm to meet me in his office. When we arrived at the office there was no power so he began the successful repair of my tooth by flashlight. It is evident that Dr. Moskowitz is a high quality dentist who cares about his patients. He will go above and beyond what is expected of a family dental practice. All of the staff contributes to the warm, professional and personal experience each time I enter the office. My wife and three children all use this practice and we would not go anywhere else. I confidently and strongly recommend Dr. Moskowitz and all his office staff.

Jonathan R. Marlboro, NJ

I have been a patient of Dr. Moskowitz for many years. Dr. Moskowitz and his professional welcoming staff are fantastic. They are caring and sensitive and make you feel completely comfortable.

After a recent accident in which I required emergency dental work his experience, wisdom and knowledge along with a comprehensive high tech approach was extremely comforting. I have truly appreciated Dr. Moskowitz and his staff's kind compassionate care throughout my extensive procedures. Thank you Dr. Moskowitz for taking such great care of me!

Suzy J. Jackson, NJ

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