Severe periodontal disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 5-20% of middle-aged adults at any given time. Gum disease occurs for most patients at some stage of their lives, and is likely to be encountered regularly by oral health professionals.
The condition can be identified during check-ups or patient interviews. Signs to look for include…
- Halitosis. This may be detectable on the patient, or they may report being advised about it by friends and family. There can be dietary and systemic causes, but given the high prevalence of periodontal disease, halitosis is often a symptom.
- Hyperpigmentation. Redness or purple coloration may be a sign of gingivitis or periodontitis. It may also be natural pigment or symptomatic of Addison’s disease or Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.
- Tenderness and bleeding. Gums that are friable, or bleed upon probing, may be symptomatic of gingivitis or periodontal disease. Untreated, this can lead to infection and necrosis.
- Pain when chewing. This can be a sign of gum disease, especially when the patient reports it occurring across several teeth.
- Loose teeth. Plaque deposits along the gum line can lead to pockets around the tooth. This can loosen jaw support lead to tooth mobility.
- Tooth hypersensitivity. Dentin hypersensitivity can be a symptom of periodontal disease, especially where gingival recession exposes the root surfaces.
Oral health professionals might recommend prophylaxis twice a year and encourage brushing twice a day using a toothpaste that fights gum disease, flossing and using an antibacterial mouth rinse.
It is far easier to prevent gum disease than to treat it. When patients are encouraged to take ownership of their own oral health, the incidence and progress of gum disease can easily be prevented.