Tales from the Operatory Part IX: Whoopi Goldberg and Gum Disease

Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease

  • Red, swollen or tender gums
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Gums that pull away from the teeth
  • Loose or separating teeth
  • Pus between the gum and the tooth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures

The Silent Nature of Periodontal Disease

This is just a partial list of warning signs of periodontal disease, often silent and waiting until the advanced stages of the disease to truly show itself. More than one in 3 people over the age of 30 have periodontitis (gum disease). Periodontitis is a serious gum infection and can destroy the jawbone. Periodontitis is common, unfortunately, because it is easily preventable.

The Stages and Consequences

In its early stage, it is known as gingivitis, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. Left untreated it becomes more serious and progresses to periodontitis where the gums pull away from the tooth, bone is lost, and the teeth loosen or even fall out. It is a chronic bacterial infection that leads to other very serious and chronic diseases.

Celebrity Cases and Health Implications

Celebrities are just as prone to periodontal disease as everyone else. Whoopi Goldberg recently returned to her show “The View” following gum surgery as a result of periodontal disease where she talked about how she’ll be losing her teeth as the infection had progressed to her jawbone and then she went on to discuss all the serious health consequences that go beyond the loss of teeth. An enormously strong connection has been found between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, premature births, erectile dysfunction, and cancer, for example.

Detection and Diagnosis

Gum disease is usually detected during a regular dental exam. Your dentist will check for signs such as bleeding gums, inflamed gums, movement of the teeth or loose teeth, alignment or bite problems, and signs of deterioration of the jaw bone.

Treatment Options

Gum disease itself cannot be “cured”. There are treatments that can help preserve healthy teeth and keep you from losing them long term. “The goals of gum disease treatment are to promote reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; reduce swelling, the depth of pockets, and the risk of infection; and to stop disease progression.”

Nonsurgical Therapies

  • Dental cleaning
  • Scaling
  • Root planing

Surgical Treatments

  • Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery
  • Bone grafts
  • Soft tissue grafts
  • Guided tissue regeneration
  • Bone surgery

Additional Support: Antibiotics and Medications

Antibiotic treatments and medications are often used in conjunction with many of these procedures in order to get rid of the infections.

Get Professional Help

Columbia Dental has a periodontist, Dr. Weston, ready to help you and treat your gum disease. The sooner you begin treatment the better in curtailing any further effects to the rest of your body.

Year-End Reminder

As we approach the end of this year you want to be sure to use all of your benefits from your insurance before you lose them. Use everything at your disposal to take care of your teeth and your health.

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