When to See a Periodontist

Periodontal treatment may be sought in several ways. Your general dentist or a hygienist may recommend a consultation with a periodontist if they find signs of periodontal disease through the course of a checkup or other dental care appointment. You may also decide to see a periodontist on your own as a referral is not necessary to be seen at our office.

In fact, if you experience any of these symptoms, we encourage you to schedule an appointment at our office without delay:

  • Bleeding while brushing or eating normal foods. Unexplained bleeding while performing regular cleaning or consuming food is the most common sign of a periodontal infection. Early diagnosis and treatment is important to save teeth.
  • Bad breath. Ongoing halitosis (bad breath), which continues despite rigorous oral cleaning, can point to periodontitis, gingivitis or the beginnings of a gum infection.
  • Loose teeth and gum recession. Longer-looking and loose-feeling teeth can indicate recession of the gums and/or bone loss as a result of periodontal disease.
  • Missing teeth can and do allow for shifting of other teeth. Shifting is painless but can lead to the loss of other teeth (the “domino effect”). Replacing missing teeth can prevent this shifting from occurring. 
  • Related health concerns. Patients with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, osteopenia or osteoporosis are often diagnosed with correlating periodontal infections. The bacterial infection can spread through the blood stream, affecting other areas of the body. Some medications can also contribute to dental diseases.

The inside of the mouth is normally lined with a special type of skin (mucosa) that is smooth and coral pink in color. Any alteration in this appearance could be a warning sign for a pathological process. The most serious of these is oral cancer. The following are common signs of a pathologic process or cancerous growth:

  • Reddish patches (erythroplasia) or whitish patches (leukoplakia) in the mouth.
  • A sore that fails to heal, and bleeds easily.
  • A lump or thickening on the skin lining the inside of the mouth.
  • Chronic sore throat or hoarseness.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing.

These changes can be detected on the lips, cheeks, palate, and gum tissue around the teeth, tongue, face, and/or neck. Pain does not always occur with pathology and, curiously, is not often associated with oral cancer. However, any patient with facial and/or oral pain without an obvious cause or reason may also be at risk for oral cancer. We recommend performing an oral cancer self-examination monthly.

Remember that your mouth is one of your body’s most important warning systems. Do not ignore suspicious lumps or sores. Please contact us so we may help.