If you’ve ever had a medical problem affecting a specific area of your body like your skin or heart, then you probably didn’t hesitate to see a doctor who specializes in that area, such as a dermatologist or cardiologist.
The same should be true when you have an issue with your oral health. If you’re having severe problems with your gums, such as advanced signs of gum disease, your best bet is usually to seek help from a periodontist, a type of dentist who specializes in treating gum disease.
But how do you know when it’s appropriate to see a periodontist and when it’s OK to see your general or family dentist? There are usually a few tell-tale signs that it’s time to visit a periodontal specialist.
1. Your Gums Are Bleeding and Red
Your gums might bleed for a variety of reasons. Some women notice that their gums get particularly tender and bleed easily during their time of the month or during pregnancy. Brushing your teeth with just a bit too much pressure and force can also make the gums more likely to bleed.
But if red, irritated, or bleeding gums are a regular thing for you, it could be a sign of gum disease, either in its early or more advanced stages. When there are excess tartar and plaque buildup on the gums and just beneath the gum line, the gum tissue can become irritated and more likely to bleed.
If you’re concerned about bleeding gums, seeing a periodontal specialist can be a good idea, as it will give you a chance to deal with the problem in its earlier stages. Usually, when gum disease is caught early, it’s treatable with non-surgical options. The earliest stage of gum disease, also known as gingivitis, is usually completely reversible.
2. You’re Dealing With Chronic Bad Breath
Everyone gets bad breath from time to time. It could be due to a particularly garlicky dinner you had the night before or because you drank too much coffee.
But if bad breath is an ongoing problem and you’re regularly feeling embarrassed by it, it could be a sign that something more serious, such as gum disease, is going on. The bacteria that cause gum disease can also produce a foul odor in your mouth.
If nothing seems to help your bad breath, from regular brushing to chewing sugar-free gum, it’s a good idea to call a periodontal specialist.
3. You’ve Noticed Other Changes in Your Gums
Although bleeding or irritated gums are often early signs of gum disease, the condition can also cause other changes to the gum tissue as it advances.
One of those changes is known as gingival recession. When your gums recede, they pull away from your teeth, exposing the roots.
Gum recession can make your teeth feel more sensitive, as the root is exposed and no longer protected by the gums. Having receding gums is also often a cosmetic concern for people. When the roots of the teeth are visible, they look longer, which can make you feel self-conscious or make you worry that you look older than you are.
Often, a periodontal specialist will perform procedures such as the pinhole surgical technique, to reposition the gum tissue and minimize any gingival recession. Procedures that correct receding gums are often performed alongside other treatments for gum disease.
4. You’ve Noticed Changes to Your Teeth
Another sign that it’s time to see a periodontal specialist is if you’ve started to notice unwanted changes in your teeth. As the gums become more and more irritated and begin to pull back away from the teeth, it’s possible for the teeth to become loose in the mouth. The teeth can change position, making your bite uneven or causing you discomfort when you chew.
In the most advanced stages, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss. Seeing a periodontist as soon as possible after you notice any changes to your gums or teeth can help you keep all of your teeth.
5. Your Family Dentist Recommends It
At this point, you might be wondering why you can’t just see your regular family dentist if you’re concerned about your gums. It’s true that many general and family dentists can help patients with the early stages of gum disease and that if you’re concerned about your teeth or gums, making an appointment with your family’s dentist is likely to be your first step.
There are also often many times when a family or general dentist will refer a person to a periodontal specialist. If that’s the case for you, it’s in your best interest to call the periodontist your family dentist recommends and schedule a consultation as soon as you can.Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who offers patients a variety of treatment options for gum disease. If you think it’s time to see a periodontal specialist, call 305-547-8687 today to schedule an appointment in Miami, FL.