Gum Disease: The Facts, Prevention, and Treatment from Our Thornton, CO Dentist
Gum disease causes swelling, bleeding, and tooth loss. In fact, when left untreated, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in Thornton, CO and beyond. With these kinds of symptoms, you may think gum disease is easy to detect. Surprisingly, the early symptoms are easy to overlook. Preventing or treating gum disease is essential because advanced gum disease leads to oral health issues including bleeding, tooth loss, and bone loss. Additionally, untreated gum disease has been related to serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease: What’s the Difference?
Periodontal disease is defined as “a group of diseases that affect the tissues that anchor and support the teeth.” The gums are part of this system, so gum disease (infection of the gums) is a form of periodontal disease. However, not all conditions that affect the gums can be classified as periodontal disease.
Sometimes, swollen gums can be a symptom of plaque buildup and potentially a sign of impending gum disease. However, there are several causes for swollen and bleeding gums that don’t signify periodontal disease. You may experience gum swelling and bleeding unrelated to gum disease under the following circumstances.
- Pregnancy: Hormonal changes during pregnancy can lead to swollen gums that bleed easily.
- Malnutrition: Low levels of certain vitamins can cause poor gum health which can eventually lead to gum disease.
- Infection: Viruses, fungi, and dental decay can all cause temporary gum infection which may include bleeding or swelling.
- Gingivitis: Gum swelling unrelated to a medical condition is usually Gingivitis. Caused by poor oral care, Gingivitis occurs when bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up on your teeth and gum line. Gingivitis can lead to periodontal disease when left untreated.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Early signs of gum disease are often minimal and easy to overlook. While they may seem like only a minor inconvenience, paying attention to these early symptoms can help you avoid serious oral health issues in the future. Regular Thornton, Colorado dental visits and good brushing and flossing habits are essential to maintain healthy gums and avoid disease. Learning about the symptoms and warning signs of gum disease provides you with the opportunity to improve your oral health and avoid tooth loss in the future.
- Your gums bleed when you brush your teeth
- Gums are swollen or sore
- You frequently have bad breath or a yucky taste in your mouth
- Sensitive teeth
- Your gums look bright red instead of pink
- Receding gums (when your gums pull away from your teeth)
- Pain when chewing
- Pockets or spaces between your teeth and gums
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way your top and bottom teeth fit together when you bite
- Pus between the teeth and gums
Early symptoms of gum conditions and disease often only affect the outer layer of the gums. Since these problems don’t affect the tissue keeping your teeth in place, they’re often easier to reverse. Gum disease can lead to serious oral health issues and other chronic illnesses. No matter what stage of periodontal disease you’re facing, it’s important to seek treatment.
Common Habits that Contribute to Gum Disease
Your permanent teeth and gums are designed to last your lifetime. Shifting teeth and tooth loss aren’t normal symptoms of aging. All too often, they’re signs of poor dental habits and oral neglect. The way you treat your mouth throughout your daily life can severely increase or decrease your likelihood of getting gum disease. Sometimes, it’s the things you do that cause periodontal disease. Perhaps more often, the cause is the things you fail to do.
3 Things Patients Do that Lead to Gum Disease
- Smoking: Smoking weakens your immune system, restricts blood flow, and can mask early symptoms of gum disease. Smokers are 7 times more likely to develop gum disease than nonsmokers.
- Teeth clenching and grinding: While these habits don’t cause gum disease, they can make an existing condition worse.
- Make poor eating choices: A lack of vitamins found in healthy food can lead to malnutrition and ultimately, gum disease. Additionally, high sugar intake can cause increased plaque and tartar, leading to tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontal disease.
5 Things Patients Don’t Do that Lead to Gum Disease
- Visit the dentist regularly: Skipped professional cleanings and dental checkups can allow your oral health to decline.
- Follow a regular brushing and flossing routine: It’s recommended that you brush at least twice daily and floss at least once a day.
- Brush correctly: Brushing your teeth should take two minutes and allow you to fully clean the exposed surfaces of every tooth.
- Use mouthwash: Mouthwash can help neutralize bacteria around the gum line.
- Replace your toothbrush often: You should replace your toothbrush every 3 months since worn out bristles remove less plaque.
Prevention, Treatment, and Reversal
After getting a clear understanding of the habits that lead to gum disease, you’re probably not surprised to learn that gum disease is largely preventable. Routine dental care, proper brushing habits, and a healthy diet can help you avoid gum disease. Prevention isn’t only the best way to avoid the complications of gum disease, it’s also the best form of treatment to fight existing periodontal disease. Daily brushing and flossing is the best way to help the gums heal.
If you’re already suffering from gum disease, your dentist can help. Periodontal treatments for gum disease include deep cleaning periodontal maintenance. Periodontal deep cleaning uses two procedures, scaling and root planning, to clean under the gum line. Periodontal maintenance is performed every three to four months. A regular cleaning technique called prophylaxis allows your dentist to clean on and around your teeth including bacteria removal from periodontal pockets. These treatments combined with healthy oral care can help you reverse the effects of gum disease.
Oral health is closely related to your overall health. If you’re located in the Thornton, Colorado area and think you may be suffering from gum disease, get in touch with the expert dental team at Barron Family Dental today.