Many people can be very confused by the diagnosis of periodontal disease, but the good news is that it is treatable and manageable with a little work on the part of the patient! Periodontal disease is also known as gum disease, which is an infection of the gum tissue, bone, and supporting structures for the teeth. Diagnosis is commonly made through a combination of dental X-rays, periodontal readings (called probe depths), and visual clinical findings.
The mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body and can provide clues to the patient's overall health. In fact, the first signs of some chronic diseases appear in the oral cavity; they can be a hint for the dentist to refer the patient to a medical doctor for a thorough exam.
There are two major types of gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis. The first is very common and is usually caused by a lack of adequate home care (brushing and flossing) and infrequent professional cleanings every 6 months. The second is usually a progression of gingivitis. Like bronchitis that can progress to pneumonia, so gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. Although the symptoms are very similar, if left untreated, periodontitis can lead to premature tooth loss, sensitivity, and chronic or acute mouth pain. If you have diabetes, you are more prone to periodontal disease and can experience greater difficulty controlling your blood glucose levels. The body ends up spending so much energy fighting the low grade infection in the mouth that it cannot achieve balance elsewhere. Studies have shown that once periodontal disease is treated, the glucose levels become more responsive to control as well.
Although periodontal disease is considered to be "silent," which means that you may not always experience pain as a signal of infection, when caught early and subjected to proper daily oral hygiene care, treatments are usually successful. If you have any questions or are in need of an appointment, call our office at 918-455-0123!