Put a stop to early gum disease before it becomes a bigger problem.
Of all the oral health problems plaguing adults, you’ll find gum disease right at the top of the list, next to chronic tooth decay.
Most adults are somewhat familiar with what gum disease is and may have spotted mentions of this disease or gingivitis on their oral care products. However, the subtle nature of the early stage of this disease makes it really tough to notice what’s happening until pain is occurring or damage is being done.
Here is the rundown on early warning signs of this disease and what you should do about it.
What Is Gum Disease?
It is also known as periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the proper medical term for gum inflammation and infection. Gum disease and periodontal disease can be used interchangeably. Both terms can be used to reference gingivitis as well as periodontitis, though your dentist will be very specific about which problem you have.
Early cases of this disease begin with gingivitis.
Gum disease begins as gingivitis. Gingivitis is a condition in which the gums – especially the gum pockets surrounding each tooth – become inflamed. The inflammation can be caused by trauma to the gums, a sugar-filled diet, or unhealthy lifestyle choices that increase risk factors.
Gingivitis isn’t a destructive form of this disease and it is often easily treated with a dentist’s help. Gingivitis is also reversible and won’t leave permanent damage to your gums or teeth.
Periodontitis is the most advanced and damaging form of this disease.
When gingivitis is left untreated, inflammation sets in. Chronic inflammation causes gum disease to worsen, eventually causing infection. At this stage, this disease has advanced to periodontitis.
Periodontitis can be healed but it can also cause permanent, irreversible damage to the gum tissue as well as the teeth.
Certain risk factors may make you more susceptible to this disease.
Smoking, frequent alcohol consumption, and poor (low nutrition) diets are common causes of this disease. Medical conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease also have a strong correlation with this disease. Hormonal changes and certain medications may also increase risks.
How Will I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
It isn’t always obvious or even painful.
Gum disease begins to show itself in a very subtle matter. Unlike a cavity that will eventually cause a toothache, it’s possible to have early stages of this disease without even realizing it.
It’s also important to remember that pain isn’t a reliable means of knowing whether something is wrong. If you’re seeing early signs of gum disease but don’t have pain, you still need to consult your dentist.
The earliest signs of gum disease are often tender gums and bad breath.
The most frequently seen early warning signs of this disease include:
- Bleeding from flossing or brushing
- Chronic, stubborn bad breath
- Swollen, puffy, and red gums
- Gum tenderness while brushing or eating
Sensitive teeth can also be a sign.
Early symptoms of gum disease can also impact your teeth. As gingivitis progresses you may find that your teeth feel especially sensitive.
What Should I Do if I Have Early Signs of Gum Disease?
Evaluate your current oral hygiene routine and make necessary changes.
Oral hygiene is the most important factor in treating early stages of this disease, as well as preventing future gum disease.
Be sure you’re brushing twice a day, for a full two minutes, using proper technique to clean each tooth. Floss at least once a day, preferably before your bedtime brushing. If you have gingivitis it’s highly recommended to also brush and floss after meals.
Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush and be careful to not brush over your gums.
You can also use ADA-approved dental care products designed for gum health. Look for products that have phrases like gum health, periodontal health, or gingivitis prevention on the labels.
Be cautious of home remedies and try dentist-approved options only.
Just like home remedies for toothaches, remedies for gum disease aren’t often effective nor are they always safe. For gingivitis, focus on your oral hygiene, improving your diet, and finding ways to change your lifestyle to reduce risk factors.
If you are interested in trying a particular home remedy, ask your dentist if it’s a safe option.
Call your dentist to book a checkup or expedite your next cleaning.
Last but most importantly, if you at all suspect you have gum disease, let your dentist know.
Your dentist has your very best interests at heart and will take any early symptoms of this disease very seriously. In very mild cases you may be able to come in for your routine checkup and cleaning sooner to get evaluated. For more serious symptoms you’ll be able to schedule a checkup right away.
Dr. Bentz and the team can help you resolve your gum disease – no matter what stage it may be.
Dr. Bentz offers complete periodontal care for patients with gingivitis and periodontitis. Treatment includes non-surgical options, such as at-home periodontal trays and periodontal therapy (deep cleanings), as well as oral laser surgery.
In the event of permanent damage from untreated periodontitis, Dr. Bentz specializes in stunning dental implants to replace any teeth that have been lost or need to be extracted.
You can learn more about periodontal health, gum disease, and what you can do to protect your smile by scheduling an appointment.