Microscopic Diagnosis of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease or, gum disease, is a chronic bacterial infection in a persons' mouth causing destruction to the gingiva, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone.

Symptoms of periodontal disease:

  • 1. Bleeding gums
  • 2. Red, inflamed/swollen gums
  • 3. Painful gums
  • 4. Bad breath
  • 5. Gum recession (may notice as longer appearing teeth)
  • 6. Foul taste in mouth
  • 7. Suppuration from gingival sulcus
  • 8. Tooth mobility/shifting

Gingivitis, meaning inflammation of the gum tissue, is the early, non-destructive form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is caused by bacterial plaque, or biofilm present on tooth surfaces. Some symptoms may include: redness around the gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, gums may appear swollen and may be tender to the touch. Adequate home care including brushing, flossing, and use of a waterpik may be enough to alleviate these symptoms and prevent progression of the disease. If left untreated or home care is inadequate gingivitis may progress to periodontitis, the destructive form of periodontal disease.

Periodontitis occurs when bacterial infection from gingivitis becomes so advanced it overwhelms host defense mechanisms and begins to cause destruction to the periodontium: the gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum, and finally the alveolar bone. At this stage symptoms will include all those of gingivitis along with halitosis (bad breath), metallic taste. At more advanced stages symptoms may also include suppuration (pus) coming from the teeth, recession of the gingival (lengthening of the teeth), and increased tooth mobility.

If left untreated, periodontal disease may continue to spread and grow harming the supporting tissues around your teeth. As more destruction of these supporting tissues occurs, teeth begin to loosen and shift. After long periods of undiagnosed and untreated periodontal disease the damage can be so severe that the teeth may need to be removed or even fall out on their own!

At Van Slooten Family Dentistry we use state-of-the-art diagnosing of periodontal disease including comprehensive full mouth exams with a licensed dentist and microbial swabs examined under high powered microscopy. Regardless of the dentist you choose, diagnosis of periodontal disease should be included at every patient exam. At Van Slooten Family Dentistry, when indicated, we perform a gentle swab of the bacterial infested plaque occurring on teeth and examine the swab under a high powered microscope. This enables us to see the bacterial composition occurring in your gums. We can determine not only whether the infectious bacteria exists in your mouth but also the severity of the infection, indicating how advanced your periodontal disease may be.

Upon a positive diagnosis of periodontal disease at Van Slooten Family Dentistry we schedule our own unique time- tested non-surgical periodontal therapy.

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