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Diagnosing Gum Disease

Any time you come in for a routine checkup and cleaning, or if you're a new patient, we will do a periodontal (gum) exam.  During this exam, we'll be checking for the general health of your gums, whether there is any recession, inflammation or infection, and we'll check the health of the underlying bone to ensure that you are healthy. If any signs of gum disease are present, we will let you know. Periodontal (gum) disease can be completely painless, so it's important to have a dental professional check to ensure you're healthy.  If it's not caught early enough, periodontal disease can permanently damage your bone and you can lose teeth.  However, if we catch it early and you are committed to treating it well at home, we can usually limit periodontal disease very effectively. 

Periodontal disease has many stages, including:

Gingivitis 

Gingivitis is a very early, reversible stage of gum disease.  It is characterized by red gums that bleed easily.  It is caused by bacteria under the gums that are causing a chronic, low-grade infection.  If gingivitis is not addressed, it can progress quickly to the next stage of gum disease, Periodontitis.

Periodontitis 

Despite your best efforts at home with a toothbrush and floss, there's only so much bacteria that can be removed under your gums.  As bacteria continue to build up under your gums, they can colonize and form soft plaques or hard calculus (formerly called tartar) under your gums.  This infection causes bone loss and recent studies have shown that periodontal disease is a contributing factor in adult onset diabetes, preterm delivery of babies and severe heart conditions.  Periodontal disease can be treated and we can stabilize it. However, once bone starts to be lost, it usually cannot be regrown. 

Advanced periodontitis

If dental bacteria are still not resolved, they can cause a severe infection called advanced periodontitis.  Teeth with advanced periodontitis are usually loose, can have pus around them, are extremely inflamed and can have a very poor long-term prognosis.  Sometimes, advanced periodontal disease can't be treated and the teeth simply must be extracted.  In other cases, we can sometimes save your teeth using a combination of surgery and medications. 

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Dr. Craig is a one-of-a-kind dentist. I hate dental work more than anyone I know, and in his caring hands, I am finally on the road to good dental health...I have never been in any kind of pain. He simply won't allow it. 

-Actual Patient
Aurora, CO