If you have noticed that your gums look and feel differently, bleed easily, or are painful, you might have gum disease. This harmful condition can lead to other oral health issues, such as mobility and tooth loss. Our Denver team explores signs and symptoms of gum disease so you can seek treatment when you need it.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease – also known as periodontal disease – leads to inflammation of the gums that are caused by several factors, including bacterial infections. If left untreated, infection can spread to other teeth, causing mobility or tooth loss.
Bacteria present in the mouth can also be carried to other parts of the body via the bloodstream. Gum disease has been linked to serious health conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
A Look at the Symptoms
There are several symptoms that could indicate you have gum disease. These include:
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Your gums bleed on their own
- Bleeding gums when you brush and floss
- Pain when you chew
- Sensitive teeth and gums
- Development of pus between teeth and gums
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Bad breath that won’t go away
These aren’t all the symptoms, but they should give you a good overview, so you’re better informed when you seek professional help.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Plaque is the main culprit since it’s the sticky film that’s left on the teeth. The problem is it’s full of harmful bacteria. Although brushing and flossing regularly should remove most plaque, it is simply impossible to remove deposits from hard-to-reach areas. That’s one reason why routine dental cleanings are so important.
When plaque remains on your gums for too long, it becomes tartar. Bacteria then feed on these deposits and multiply, causing the gums to become irritated.
What Puts Me at Risk?
One of the most significant risk factors is bad oral hygiene habits. If you’re not brushing and flossing at least twice daily, you exponentially increase your chances of developing this disease. Not visiting your dentist at least twice a year is another major factor.
The Centers for Disease Control says that tobacco use leads to more plaque on the teeth. Using recreational drugs like smoking marijuana can also increase your chances.
Poor nutrition, certain medications, and autoimmune diseases, diabetes, and more can lead to issues with your gums. Additionally, genetics can play a role since some people are more prone than others.
What Are My Treatment Options?
There are both non-surgical and surgical options available to treat your gums. The treatment recommended for you depends on the level of disease. Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, can be reversed with a dental cleaning at our Denver office. If you have more plaque on your teeth than you should, your dentist might recommend that you come in for cleanings more frequently to keep oral bacteria at bay.
Left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis. During this phase, infection migrates below the gums and begins to erode the bone that supports the teeth. Mild periodontitis can be addressed with scaling and root planning – or, a deep dental cleaning. Though this procedure is non-surgical, your doctor administers local anesthesia to numb the gums. That way, the clinician can clean deep below the gums to eliminate hidden plaque and bacteria. Once the cleaning is complete, you dentist or hygienist smooths the root surfaces to discourage plaque from reattaching.
If you have advanced periodontitis, surgery might be needed. Your dentist can perform pocket reduction surgery by temporarily moving the gums back, thoroughly cleaning the root surfaces, and suturing the gum tissue back into place. In some cases, areas of the jawbone may be smoothed to prevent bacteria from hiding.
There is no cure for gum disease, but it can be successfully managed with appropriate care and maintenance. The sooner the condition is detected and treated, the better chance for optimal long-term oral health.
What Should I Do?
If you notice any gum disease symptoms, you should contact our Denver office as soon as possible by calling 303-534-2626 to schedule your appointment. Our team will perform a full examination and develop the best treatment plan for you.