Bleeding gums and Loose Teeth

A Conversation with Periodontist Dr. James S.C. Lin

What is Periodontal (gum) Disease? 

Over 90% of Taiwanese population and over 47% of US population have periodontal disease, according to US CDC and TW MOHW.  Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease, generally asymptomatic, that affects the gum and bone supporting the teeth.  If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and other chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. 

How Serious are Periodontal (gum) Disease?

Untreated periodontal (gum) disease will lead to progressive tooth loss.  In addition, gum disease can increase the risk for cardiovascular disease.  Research has shown that bacteria that grow in the oral cavity can be aspirated into the lungs to cause respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, especially in people with periodontal disease.  According to studies, patients with untreated gum disease were 49% more likely to develop kidney cancer, 54% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer, and 30% more likely to develop blood cancers.

What Causes Periodontal (gum) Disease?

The main cause of periodontal (gum) disease is plaque.  Other leading factors that increases your risk for gum diseases include aging, tobacco use, systemic diseases, genetics, stress, medications, clenching or grinding your teeth, poor diet and obesity.  Patients with diabetes are also more likely to have periodontal problems.  In fact, gum disease is often considered one of the major complications of diabetes

What are the Symptoms of Periodontal (gum) Disease?

Periodontal disease is often silent.  Symptoms, such as pain, may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease.  However, if you observe or experience any of the following symptoms, be sure to contact your dentist or periodontist right away: swollen or tender gums, oral inflammation, bleeding while brushing, flossing, or when eating certain foods, receding gums that are causing the teeth to look longer than before, loose teeth, pus, sores in your mouth, and persistent bad breath.

What is a Periodontist?

Periodontists are dentists with specialty in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease, and in the placement, maintenance, and repair of dental implants.  Periodontists receive three additional years of extensive training beyond dental school in treating periodontal disease and performing periodontal surgeries.  They can treat patients with severe gum problems using a range of procedures that correct gum recession and cover up exposed root surfaces which can be unsightly as well as sensitive to hot and cold.

Information Source:  American Academy of Periodontology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dear Doctor Dentistry & Oral Health