Gum disease is one of the topics we hate to talk about. We never like to tell you, “we are seeing signs of gum disease” at your hygiene appointment. The thing we have learned in over 25 years of serving you, though, is that education helps prevent issues, which prevents those hard conversations that include having to ask you to brush and floss more, so here we go. We are going to talk about it.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection in the tissues around your teeth. Where does this infection come from? Well, it starts off with plaque, which is bacteria that builds up and hardens on your teeth. Many parts of our body shed their surface, like our skin, to prevent disease, but our teeth do not. Our saliva fights bacteria, and that coupled with brushing, flossing, great habits, and regular dental visits all create a strong defense against decay and gum disease.
There are three stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis. Gingivitis is inflammation in your gums, which causes swelling, bleeding, and redness. If you notice blood in your mouth or sink after brushing, this could be a sign you have this first stage of gum disease.
- Periodontitis. Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gingivitis, where there is not only inflammation, but tissue loss such as receding gums and bone loss, causing your tooth or teeth to loosen.
- Aggressive Periodontitis. This stage’s symptoms include inflammation and tissue and bone loss, but all at a more severe and accelerated rate. This could result in the loss of a tooth or teeth, not just tissue and bone, at this point.
Are there treatments for gum disease?
The best treatment for the early stages of gum disease is brushing at least twice a day, flossing or using a Waterpik at least once a day, maintaining your regular hygiene appointments, and eating a healthy diet. Gingivitis is reversible in many cases, but Periodontitis or Aggressive Periodontitis can be irreversible at times due to the loss of bone, tissue and tooth involved.
Here at Smile Care, Dr. Paul will evaluate the severity of your case and give you recommendations for either care here with us or with a periodontist, a specialized dentist working with those who have severe cases of gum disease.
We can combat gum disease together. Here is what we do:
- At your regular hygiene visits, your hygienist checks for gum disease. Our hygienists are trained to check your gums for firmness and to observe any signs of disease such as bleeding or swelling. They also check your gum pocket depth around each tooth, which is the depth of the space between your gum and tooth. The larger and deeper the pocket, the more concern there is about the severity of the disease. If something concerning is found, Dr. Paul will help make a plan to restore your oral health.
- If gum disease is found to be advanced, a special periodontal cleaning, Scaling and Root Planing, will be recommended. In this procedure, your mouth will be numbed, and all tartar, plaque, and toxins will be removed systematically from both above and below your gum line on each tooth. Any rough spots on your root surfaces will also be smoothed out. We see great results from this procedure, as it causes your gum pockets to shrink and heals the gum tissue.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
First and foremost, it is important to note that it’s definitely possible to have no symptoms yet still have gum disease. This is why we highly encourage you to see us for your regular hygiene appointments, so that our hygiene team and Dr. Paul can accurately assess your oral health.
Here are some common symptoms of gum disease:
- Bleeding gums
- Sore, inflamed or red gums
- Receding gums (gums that are pulling away the teeth)
- A bad taste in your mouth or constant bad breath
- Loose or shifting permanent teeth
- Any change in your bite (the way your teeth fit together), even with dentures