According to Edmond Dentist, Dr. Michael Chandler, nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 suffer from some form of gum disease. Gum disease is often painless so many people might not realize that there’s anything wrong, but there are tell-tale signs that all is not well in your mouth.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease affects the tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth, and its development results in tooth loss as well as a host of other problems. Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque—the sticky layer of bacteria that forms over our teeth. Gum disease—medically referred to as periodontitis—develops in stages. Gingivitis is the first stage, and it is the only stage that is reversible.
Sign Number 1 : Bleeding Gums
If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, there is a good possibility that you have gingivitis. Closer inspection of your gums may reveal that the tissue surrounding your teeth has begun to recede or become puffy and tender. Many times this is preventable with proper oral hygiene: brush twice daily, floss, eat well and drink plenty of water.
Only your dentist can successfully diagnose gingivitis or more advanced forms of periodontitis. If your gums are sensitive or bleeding, your dentist will be able to help.
Sign Number 2 : Bad Breath
No one wants to have bad breath, but those suffering from gum disease will be almost certain to experience it. Your mouth is warm and wet—the ideal spot for bacteria to set up shop. Foul-smelling bacteria feasts on the food you eat, and without proper removal through brushing, flossing, and trips to the dentist, this bacteria will change from plaque into tartar.
Using mouthwash or gum will only serve to treat the symptoms of gum disease, not the root cause. Your dentist will be able to provide insight if you have chronically bad breath and if it is related to periodontitis.
Sign Number 3 : Changes in Tooth Appearance
When gum disease advances beyond the gingivitis stage, serious damage could be on its way. If your permanent teeth develop gaps, your bite no longer aligns normally, or you begin losing teeth, you could be experiencing advanced stages of periodontitis. As the bacteria eats away at your gums, it will then move onto attack the bone surrounding your teeth, which will cause movement or loss of teeth.
If you notice that your teeth no longer fit together as they used to, it is time to visit your dentist. Misaligned or missing teeth could signal advanced periodontitis, and only your dentist will be able to help.
Gum Disease and Its Treatments
Regularly scheduled dental cleanings will help you keep on top of periodontitis. In its earliest stage of gingivitis, gum disease can be reversed with thorough, professional cleaning of plaque by your dentist. If things have advanced a little further, scaling and root planing will be the next step; scaling removes buildup of plaque or tartar around and below the gumline, and root planing will help smooth out the tooth so damaged gum tissue can attach more easily.
When gum disease has gone beyond these non-surgical treatments, you’ll be looking at more invasive procedures: bone and soft tissue grafts, guided tissue regeneration, or bone and gum surgery. Don’t let bleeding gums, bad breath, or a changing smile lead to irreversible damage! Some gum disease is caused by genetic or medical conditions, but most of the time, you can avoid the unsavory side effects of periodontitis with good oral hygiene and regular trips to the dentist.
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