Stop Gum Disease in Its Tracks Before It’s Too Late
Recognizing Early Warnings Signs of Gum Disease
Tooth decay often takes the spotlight as the #1 enemy of healthy smiles, but gum disease is actually the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Gum disease, or periodontal disease, often develops quietly, only revealing obvious symptoms, like pain or infection, after the disease has advanced to a severe degree.
An experienced dentist can treat even the most advanced cases of gum disease, but irreversible damage can occur surprisingly fast when an infection is active. The sooner your dentist can diagnose your gum disease, the better.
Here’s what you need to know about gum disease and how to stop it before permanent damage occurs.
Stages and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease is a general term used to describe the different levels of inflammation or infection of the gum tissue.
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, characterized by inflammation and irritation. The most common symptoms include:
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing
- Gums that look puffy or red
- Stubborn bad breath despite brushing
Gingivitis usually doesn’t cause pain, and the symptoms can be tricky to recognize when it first begins. Bleeding gums is the most prevalent symptom, so keep in mind that if you see pink on your toothbrush or floss, your dentist needs to be informed.
When gingivitis isn’t treated and the inflammation worsens, infection will eventually occur. When an infection begins to brew within your gums, you’ve developed periodontitis. Periodontitis has three stages: initial/mild, moderate, and severe. Tooth loss is a genuine possibility at a severe level.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- More obvious bleeding gums, coupled with pain
- Discomfort when biting down
- Foul-smelling breath and a bad taste in the mouth
- Noticeable wiggliness of teeth
- Receding gums or longer-looking teeth
- Visible pus or abscesses within the gums
Causes and Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Nearly all cases of gum disease share one similarity, and that’s the original cause of the inflammation.
Plaque typically sticks on the surface of teeth closest to the gumline. Infrequent brushing or flossing allows the plaque layers to accumulate, gradually pushing down into the gum pocket that surrounds each tooth. This leads to irritation, inflammation, and eventual infection.
Plaque buildup is most often caused by a combination of poor oral hygiene and poor nutrition. People who infrequently see a dentist are also much more likely to develop gum disease, as the only way to remove plaque completely is with a professional cleaning.
Other Risk Factors
With that being said, lifestyle and health factors can also increase your chances of developing gum disease. For example, certain medications can cause dry mouth, which encourages plaque accumulation. Habits like smoking and drinking alcohol also dry the mouth and expose oral tissue to damage. Your age can also play a role, as adults over 55 are much more susceptible to gum disease.
Treatment Options for Gum Disease
All stages of gum disease are considered preventable and treatable, and gingivitis or mild gum disease can be reversed. Ongoing research shows that science is hard at work on finding a way to reverse periodontitis, but at this time, it’s still considered to be an irreversible condition.
Several treatment options are available to correct gum disease and repair the damage it causes to gum tissue, teeth, and the jawbone. Even if you’ve experienced extreme damage from periodontitis, you can still achieve a full smile with reconstructive care.
Periodontal therapy is a nonsurgical and minimally invasive treatment for patients with all stages of gum disease. It primarily involves a deep-cleaning procedure called scaling and root planing that removes plaque and bacteria that are deep within the inflamed gum pockets that surround each tooth. These cleanings will need to be repeated frequently until your gums are no longer inflamed.
Prosthetic Teeth and Implants
Advanced periodontitis often results in tooth loss. If you have lost teeth or require extractions, your dentist can fill the gaps with a restorative dentistry solution. Laurel Manor provides several options, from dental bridges to complete dentures.
Our favorite tooth replacement option is dental implants. They are a permanent solution for tooth loss and offer several exciting benefits that other prosthetic teeth don’t.
Cosmetic dentistry also plays a role in gum disease treatment. If your gums have receded but the teeth remain healthy and stable, veneers or dental crowns can be a finishing touch in reshaping your smile.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Despite how destructive gum disease is, it responds very well to preventive care. Although there are certain lifestyle risks that are outside of your control, you can do a lot to protect your smile from developing gum disease or relapsing.
Our top tips include:
- Prioritizing your oral health at home with meticulous brushing and flossing habits
- Using ADA-approved oral care products that are designed for gum health, or asking your dentist for product recommendations
- Avoiding sugar and basing your staple diet around a variety of minimally processed or whole foods
- Strongly considering stopping unhealthy habits, such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption
- Seeing your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning, even if your teeth and gums seem clean and healthy
Remember, your oral and overall health share a powerful connection. Taking care of your physical health and seeing your general practitioner for annual wellness exams play a role in maintaining optimal oral health too.
Protect your gum health at Laurel Manor Dental.
If you believe you have symptoms of gum disease or if it’s been more than six months since your last dental appointment, it’s time to schedule a visit. The Laurel Manor Dental team is passionate about dental care, and we provide a complete menu of dentistry services to give you a beautiful, healthy smile. Our office is conveniently located in the Laurel Manor Professional Plaza in The Villages, FL. Schedule your appointment today by giving us a call or requesting a visit online.