You may have heard your hygienist or dentist refer to periodontal disease or perio or periodontitis during a routine evaluation or cleaning. But what does that mean? The term perio literally means around, dont/dontal refers to the tooth, and -itis signifies a type of inflammatory disease. Put two and two together and you’ll quickly realize periodontal matters are related to the health and function of your gums and the surrounding bone, hence, the more commonly known term is “gum disease”.
The bad news about gum disease? The ADA estimates that about HALF of US adults have it. Even worse- many don’t know it! The early signs of gum disease can be elusive, and, in rare cases, “symptoms” can be completely nonexistent. The warning signs may seem at first like “no big deal” or a “maybe this will go away in a few weeks” thing, but if you’re experiencing any of the following, it is best to seek the evaluation of a professional:
- Red or persistently swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Constant bad breath/bad taste in your mouth (no garlic needed!)
- Loose permanent teeth and/or loose “airy” gums
- A change in your bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
When not addressed early on or cared for properly after it has been diagnosed, gum disease can ultimately result in loss of teeth. This is bad for patients and dentists who strive for permanent, positive oral health. The good news about gum disease? It IS preventable.
Like most diseases, gum disease has “stages”. The technical term for the early stage of gum disease is gingivitis. With proper at-home oral health care and routine professional cleanings (including removal of the heavy duty plaque that causes gum disease), gingivitis and perio problems can be reversed.
Don’t gum up when it comes to caring for your gums! Request a hygiene appointment with one of our well-trained, highly competent hygienists today.