Dental Blog

Know the Signs of Gum Disease

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
signs-of-gum-disease

Gum disease is more of a prevalent issue than you may think. Because gum disease can vary in stages, it can be difficult to detect gum disease symptoms on your own. While you may be brushing and flossing regularly, a routine teeth cleaning at your Bright Now dentist is your best bet to check for gum disease symptoms, and understand gum disease causes. Our friendly local dentists discuss the progression of gum disease below and what you should consider for treatment if you think you might be at risk.

What is gum disease?

In order to know if you are experiencing gum disease symptoms, we must first understand what gum disease is and why it matters to the health of your teeth. Gum disease is an inflammation that occurs around the gum line, which is where the roots of your teeth reside. The reason gum disease is so important to understand and prevent is because it’s progression can ultimately affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. Without healthy gums, major dental problems can occur within the bone structure that keep your teeth in tact. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found that nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 suffer from periodontal disease. Aside from this being a painful experience, if not treated, continued mistreatment of gum disease and gum disease symptoms can lead to the loss of teeth if the bone structure supporting them cannot be healthily maintained.

Gum disease works as a progression and can develop into three stages – gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis, which increase in severity. The earlier stages of gum disease can be prevented with proper teeth cleanings and routine oral hygiene. However, as gum disease develops, the later stages can pose a serious risk to your oral health. While visiting your Bright Now Dentist can help in providing professional teeth cleanings and checkups to prevent gum disease, one of the best things patients can do for themselves is to practice good oral hygiene on a regular basis, and watch for gum disease symptoms at home.

Gum Disease Stages

  1. Gingivitis. This is the earliest stage of gum disease, and tends to be the most common stage of development. Gingivitis results from plaque buildup at the gumline, a consequence of poor oral hygiene. When patients refrain from regular brushing and flossing, plaque will reside on the surface, in between, and at the baseline of teeth. This plaque buildup can produce toxins that irritate your gums – hence the development of gingivitis. If you’ve noticed some bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth, you may be experiencing some gum disease symptoms. It’s good to watch for signs of gingivitis, as catching its development early can reverse its damage. This is because the bone and connective tissue within your gums are not yet affected within the gingivitis stage. Routine teeth cleanings at your Bright Now! Dental office and proper oral care at home are sure ways of preventing damage from gingivitis.
  2. Periodontitis. If you’ve gone past the stage of gingivitis and into periodontitis the largest change to note is that the supporting connective tissue, fibers, and bones that work to hold your teeth are irreversibly damaged. Once periodontitis has developed, there is not a way to repair your gums to their previous, healthy state. At this stage of gum disease development your gums are damaged, and because the connective tissue is no longer strong enough, the gums may begin to form pockets below the gumline. These pockets can cause further damage as it’s easier to trap food and plaque. With periodontitis, patients will need to increase their at home oral hygiene care and practice, along with frequent visits to the dentist to prevent further damage.
  3. Advanced Periodontitis. This is the final, and most damaging stage of gum disease. At this point in gum disease development, teeth can shift and loosen with the potential for their removal because the connective tissue and bone are destroyed beyond repair. When the teeth are loose, it can affect your bite. If teeth must be removed, your Bright Now dentist can support you with various options to replace your teeth.

Gum Disease Symptoms

While gum disease is most common among adults, it can develop at any age. Because gum disease symptoms aren’t generally associated with pain, it can often go unnoticed. It’s important to watch for gum disease symptoms below to detect it in its earliest stage while treatment can create a reversal in its development. If you notice any of the following symptoms, perform a “dentist near me” search and contact your Bright Now dentist for a checkup and teeth cleaning:

  • Gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing
  • Swollen, red, tender, or puffy gums
  • Gums that recede away from the tooth
  • Formation of pockets in between the gum line and the tooth, as the gums have separated from the tooth
  • Loose teeth
  • Changes in your bite and how teeth fit together
  • Pus surrounding your teeth and gums
  • Teeth that are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures
  • Constant bad breath or bad taste in your mouth

Gum Disease Causes

Knowing what causes gum disease is a good way in cultivating a mindset towards preventative oral care. The more caution and at home care you can practice, the more likely you are to prevent gum disease from occurring and developing into a serious dental issue.

The bacteria that come from plaque are the culprit behind gum disease. Plaque is a film formed on your teeth any time you consume foods that contain sugar. If this plaque isn’t removed with brushing and flossing, it can harden and calcify into tartar – a tough substance to remove from teeth. Tartar cannot be removed with brushing or flossing, and will require a visit to the dentist for a professional teeth cleaning to use special instruments made for tartar removal. The constant buildup of plaque and tartar irritate your gums and initiate the development of gum disease.

Gum Disease Treatment

Treatment will depend on the stage of gum disease. The earlier stages of gum disease (gingivitis) can often be reversed with routine teeth cleanings, and proper brushing and flossing. Maintenance and good oral hygiene prevents plaque from building up and contributing to gum disease. Professional teeth cleanings are necessary to routinely remove tartar buildup and checkups allow your dentist to notice any changes in the development of your teeth and gums. Gum disease is a sign of an oral infection, and treatment will depend on the extent of the infection.

Professional Teeth Cleaning
At your regular dental checkup, your Bright Now! dentist will perform what is known as scaling. This kind of deep cleaning allows your dentist to scrape away any kind of tartar that has built up above and below the gumline. Your dentist can also perform root planing, where they remove rough spots that have formed on your teeth. These spots are often a haven for germs to accumulate. Some practices also use lasers to remove tartar and plaque buildup.

Medications
Often used in conjunction with teeth cleaning, medication can help reduce infection if gum disease has developed. The use of medication will depend on the progression of gum disease, and is at the discretion of your dentist. This can include various kinds of mouthwash, gels, and antibiotics depending on your needs.

Surgery
A surgery known as flap surgery can be performed if you’ve developed periodontitis and pockets have formed between your teeth and gumline. This surgery can help you keep your gum line cleaner by lessening the area by which plaque and tartar can gather in a hard to reach area. In this surgery, tartar is removed from the tooth before the gum is restructured around the tooth. In more serious cases, bone and tissue grafts can be used to try and regenerate bone or tissue that has been lost. Treatment will depend on many factors, independent to the patient itself, which is why it’s important to visit your dentist if you notice you may have some gum disease symptoms. Your dentist is best adept to formulate a treatment specific to your needs.

Dentist Near Me

At your next routine cleaning, be sure to ask your dentist what steps you can take to lower your risk for developing gum disease. Emergency services are also available if you’ve found your symptoms shouldn’t wait. You can make an appointment by visiting us online, or calling us at 1-844-400-7645 and a friendly staff member will work with your schedule. Don’t wait for symptoms to get worse, as gum disease can be prevented in it’s early stages!