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Your Guide to Early Signs of Gum Disease & Treatment

Knowing the early signs of gum disease is essential to get the treatment you need before it becomes a more serious problem. Gum disease is an oral health issue that can lead to tooth loss and other health complications, such as heart disease if left untreated.

Quick Summary

  • Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that can cause tooth loss and other health complications.
  • Early signs of gum disease include red, swollen gums, bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, receding gums, and bad breath.
  • Gum disease risk factors include smoking, poor dental hygiene, certain medical conditions such as diabetes, and genetics.
  • Treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of the condition and can include professional cleaning, scaling and root planing, gum grafting, and bone grafting.

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that starts in your gum tissue and spreads throughout your mouth. It is caused by a buildup of plaque and bacteria in the mouth, leading to inflammation and damage to the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth.

The earliest stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. This is when the gums become red, swollen, and bleed easily. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease characterized by receding gums, loose teeth, and bone loss.

Early Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease may go unnoticed until it has progressed to a more severe stage. However, there are some early signs that you should be aware of, such as swollen gums, bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, pus between your teeth and gums, bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth, receding gums, loose teeth, and tooth sensitivity.

If you experience any symptoms of gum disease, you must see your dentist as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further damage to your gums and teeth.

Causes of Gum Disease

Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup and bacteria in the mouth. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth and gums, and it contains bacteria that can cause inflammation and damage to the gums and bone that supports the teeth. Poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing or flossing regularly, can lead to an accumulation of plaque which can eventually cause gum disease.

Other risk factors for gum disease include smoking, certain medical conditions such as diabetes, genetics, hormonal changes, and crooked teeth that are hard to clean.

How Does My Dentist Diagnose Gum Disease?

If you suspect you may have gum disease, your dentist will conduct a physical examination of your mouth and x-rays to check for any bone loss. If your dentist finds evidence of gum disease, they recommend a treatment plan to help manage the condition.

Treatment Options for Gum Disease

The treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of the condition. In mild cases of gingivitis, professional cleaning and improved oral hygiene may be enough to reverse the damage. For more advanced cases of periodontal disease, more aggressive treatments such as scaling and root planing may be necessary. In severe cases, surgery may be required to restore the health of the gums and bone.

#1. Professional Dental Cleaning

This non-invasive procedure involves removing plaque and tartar from the teeth and gums. You should have a professional dental cleaning every six months to help prevent gum disease and other oral health problems.

#2. Scaling and Root Planing

This deep cleaning procedure removes plaque and tartar from below the gum line. Scaling removes excess plaque and tartar, while root planing smooths out the root surfaces to help the gums reattach to the teeth.

#3. Antibiotics

Sometimes, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help treat gum disease. These medications can help reduce inflammation and kill bacteria that cause infection.

#4. Gum Grafting

For severe cases of periodontal disease, a gum graft may be necessary to restore the health of the gums. This procedure involves taking tissue from another part of the mouth and grafting it onto the affected area.

#5. Flap Surgery

Flap surgery is also used to treat advanced stages of gum disease. It involves lifting the gums away from the teeth and removing any diseased or damaged tissue. The gums are then sutured back in place, allowing better access to clean and treat the affected area. Flap surgery can help reduce pocket depths, which can help prevent further damage to the gums and teeth.

#6. Bone Grafting

Bone grafting is a procedure that can help restore the health of the jawbone. It involves taking bone from another part of the body (usually the hip) and grafting it onto the affected area. This helps to replace any lost bone due to gum disease, which can help prevent further damage to the teeth and gums.

Preventing Gum Disease

There are several steps you can take to help keep your gums healthy and reduce your risk of developing gum disease.

  1. Practice good oral care: This includes brushing and flossing regularly, using mouthwash to help reduce bacteria in the mouth, and avoiding sugary foods and drinks.
  2. Eat a balanced diet: Foods high in calcium, such as dairy products, leafy greens, and nuts, can help strengthen the teeth and gums. Eating crunchy fruits and vegetables can also help remove plaque from the teeth.
  3. Quit smoking: Tobacco products contain chemicals that can damage the gums and increase your risk of gum disease.
  4. Reduce stress: Stress can weaken the immune system and make it harder for your body to fight infection.
  5. Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated helps to flush out bacteria and food particles from the mouth. It also helps prevent dry mouth, which can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
  6. Visit your dentist regularly: Regular checkups and cleanings can help detect any early signs of gum disease and other oral health issues.

Achieve a Healthy, Beautiful Smile with Bergens Periodontics and Implant Dentistry

Our team of experienced periodontists and dental professionals are dedicated to providing the highest quality care for our patients. We offer a wide range of services, from preventive care to advanced treatments such as gum and bone grafting. Our goal is to help you achieve a beautiful, healthy smile that you can be proud of. Contact us today to schedule a consultation!