So What Exactly IS Periodontal Disease?

October 30, 2012 | Posted in Education

So you have become increasingly concerned about the importance of maintaining good oral health. You understand that a healthy mouth is often a sign of a healthy body. And you have read a lot about periodontal disease, but perhaps are not 100% sure what it is.

Periodontal disease occurs when bacteria are allowed to build up on your teeth, particularly at the gum line. When this occurs, they can form into plaque and even harden into tartar.

This is a sign that you have a very active colony of bacteria that is doing its best to feed off of your gum tissue and even the underlying bone structure of your jaw and the connective tissue found therein. This can obviously lead to tooth loss.

One of the more interesting aspects of periodontal disease is that it can be quite painless. You may not be aware that there is a problem developing. This is one of the most common problems we have as dentists in treating periodontal disease. Because there may be no pain or discomfort, many patients find it hard to believe that there is actually a problem.

It is important that you not be fooled by the lack of pain or discomfort. In fact, by the time you begin to notice any pain, that is usually sign that your periodontal disease is quite advanced. This can result in you having to face treatment options that are far more invasive, time consuming and, unfortunately, costly.

In its earlier stages, periodontal disease is often characterized by inflammation of the gums. Your gums may be purple or red in colour, or they may have a shiny appearance. They also may be tender or prone to bleed easily.

If you visit us at Rideau Dental Centre, you will notice that we will look for signs of periodontal disease by probing your gums to determine what we call pocket depth. What we are doing is literally measuring how much separation there is between your teeth and your gums. The bigger the pockets, the more advanced we consider your case of periodontal disease to be.

Pockets of 1 to 2 millimeters are quite normal and not a cause for concern. We start to become more concerned when we see a lot of 3 millimeter pockets. If you have a lot of 4 millimeter pockets or more, we will recommend that you visit us at Rideau Dental Centre more frequently in order to bring your periodontal disease under control.

The reason for this is straightforward: it is very difficult to keep your teeth for life if you have periodontal disease. As the mouth can be a significant window into your overall health, we think keeping your teeth for life is a worthwhile goal.

If it is a goal you share, make sure you talk to us if you notice any of the early signs of periodontal disease we mentioned.  Because keeping your teeth for life is a healthy habit…and healthy habits lead to healthy lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon