When most people think of gum disease, they think of gingivitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of the disease characterized by inflammation of the gums. However, periodontal disease is a more severe form of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss and other health problems.
According to the CDC, 47.2% of adults 30 years old and older have periodontal disease. However, the disease is preventable and treatable with early detection and intervention. Here’s what you need to know about gum disease, its warning signs, and how to prevent and treat this condition.
What Is Gum Disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, it is a bacterial infection of the gums. Plaque, a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva, causes this condition. If you fail to remove plaque through daily brushing and flossing, this will harden into tartar. Only professional cleaning can remove tartar.
When plaque and tartar build up, they begin to destroy the gums and bones that support your teeth. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.
Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is usually painless in its early stages. That’s why it makes sense to be aware of the warning signs so you can get treatment as soon as possible. The following are five of the most common symptoms of gum disease.
1. Bleeding Gums
One of the first signs of gum disease is bleeding gums, also called gingival bleeding. This can happen when you brush or floss your teeth or if your gums are tender or inflamed. Bleeding gums is a sign that your gums are not healthy.
2. Swollen Gums
Another early sign of gum disease is swollen gums. This can make your gums appear puffy or red. Swelling is usually a sign of inflammation, which is your body’s response to an infection.
3. Bad Breath
Bad breath or halitosis is another classic symptom of gum disease. This happens because the bacteria in plaque and tartar produce toxins that cause an unpleasant odor. If you have bad breath that doesn’t go away after brushing your teeth and tongue, it could signify periodontal disease.
4. Loose Teeth
Periodontal disease can destroy the bone and connective tissue that support your teeth as the disease progresses. As a result, your teeth may become loose or shift out of place. Taking this sign lightly can result in tooth loss.
5. Pus Between Your Teeth and Gums
Pus between your teeth and gums is a sign that you have an infection in your mouth. This is usually a sign of advanced periodontal disease and requires immediate dental treatment. This already means there’s an infection in the bones surrounding your teeth.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way to prevent gum disease is through good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once daily. You should also see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
If you have any of the symptoms of gum disease, make an appointment with your dentist right away. For instance, one of your teeth feels loose, you find pus on your gums, and your gums bleed easily when brushing your teeth. These symptoms are not ones you want to take for granted, or you risk losing your teeth and damaging your overall health.
Treating Gum Disease
Once you find symptoms of gum disease, go straight ahead to a reliable dental office. Know that signs of infection, including loose teeth, pus on gums, and bleeding gums, already fall under a dental emergency category. Find a dental clinic that offers emergency dental care for such cases so you won’t have to wait for your appointment. Know that the right clinic will have a team of dental experts with years of experience providing relief for people with periodontitis or gum disease.
During the initial consultation, your dentist will assess the severity of your gum disease and develop a treatment plan accordingly. In some cases, a deep cleaning may be all that is needed to treat gum disease. This involves removing plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums. Your dentist may also recommend other treatments, such as scaling and root planing, to remove tartar from below the gum line. In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat gum disease.
If your dentist can no longer save your tooth due to gum disease, they may recommend tooth replacement solutions to once again restore your confident smile. Dental implants are one of the most popular tooth replacement options because they look and feel like your natural teeth.
This shows that spotting gum disease early on is crucial to saving your smile. Take heed of the early warning signs and see your dentist as soon as possible. Doing so will help you avoid more serious complications like tooth loss.