Did you know that nearly half of the American population suffer from gum disease each year? While it is easy to focus on your teeth when it comes to your oral health, your gums should never get ignored. These soft tissues not only provide the framework for your smile, but their health can also impact the health of your entire body. Untreated periodontal disease is associated with tooth loss as well as stroke, diabetes, heart disease and premature birth.
Now that you understand the seriousness of your gum health, it is important to know when your gums are showing signs of irritation, infection or disease. An evaluation of your gum health is always performed at your routine dental visit. However, you can learn how to detect gum disease at home too.
Here are some common warning signs that your gums need attention:
- Bleeding gums that regularly occur during or after brushing
- Gum discoloration (Healthy gums are pink not red)
- Tender gums
- Gums receding or pulling away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth that are not caused by impact or other force
How Do the Gums Become Infected?
Gum disease is essentially an infection within the gums. It begins when plaque and food debris are not cleaned from your teeth and gum line. These particles irritate the gums and cause the gums to become red, swollen and tender. Once bacteria sets in, the gums become infected and the infection can cause the gums to pull away from the tooth roots and even destroy the underlying bone that hold your teeth in place. Since gum disease begins with oral bacteria and plaque, the importance of proper brushing and flossing habits become obvious in preventing this oral infection.
Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis
If you have been told you have gum disease, it is critical that you know which stage of periodontal disease is present. Gum disease begins as gingivitis, where it is at the most mild and treatable stage. If allowed to progress, gingivitis can become periodontitis, which is a much more advanced stage of periodontal disease that warrants more aggressive treatment. In advanced stages of periodontitis, patients are often at risk for tooth loss and threats to their overall health. While periodontitis often progresses slowly, rapid advancement of this disease can occur.
Who is at Risk?
Are you prone to gum disease? There are some common risk factors that make some patients more susceptible to gum disease than others. First and foremost, if you don’t value the importance of daily brushing and flossing, you are at an increased risk for gum disease, decay and many other oral health problems that originate with plaque formation. Other risk factors for gum disease include diabetes, certain medications, tobacco, poor diet, and genetic predisposition.
Treating Gum Disease
Like many other health conditions, early treatment is always best with gum disease. If you recognize the early signs of gingivitis, you may be able to eliminate gum disease with better brushing and flossing habits at home. Other patients may need to schedule a professional dental cleaning or deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) to eradicate bacteria that is lingering and festering underneath the gum line.
If you have advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, you may need more aggressive intervention. This may include laser gum treatment or oral surgery. Fortunately, at Group Health Dental, we have an on-staff periodontist. Having a dentist who specializes in gum disease treatment allows us to provide the most effective therapy options available. We realize the severity of gum disease as it pertains to both your smile and your body, so we make it a priority to provide the best treatment approach possible.
Schedule Your Appointment with a Periodontist
Do you have bleeding, puffy or red gums? Don’t ignore it. Schedule your routine cleaning or periodontist consultation today at Group Health Dental in New York. We promise to keep you safe, comfortable and informed at every step of your visit!