Periodontal disease describes gum issues ranging from simple inflammation to serious disease that can lead to major damage of the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. The gums are essential in supporting the teeth and covering the nerves beneath them. Serious cases of gum disease can lead to tooth extraction, something that patients and dentists hope to avoid.
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of gum disease can be subtle, maybe even mistaken for normal, but can quickly become serious. Signs that you suffer from gum disease include:
- Bad breath despite good hygiene
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender, bleeding gums
- Pain while chewing
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
Pain is never normal and neither is blood or swelling. If you notice any of the symptoms of gum disease you should contact a dentist as soon as possible. It may take only a topical antiseptic or antibiotic to kill the bacteria that is causing infection of the gums. If the gum disease is more advanced, called periodontitis, more serious treatment may be required. Your dentist or periodontist who specializes in gum health may need to remove the dead or infected tissue through various procedures. Infected tissue may be removed and extreme cases may require bone or tissue grafts. Any surgical procedure costs more, takes more time, may include additional office visits, and recovery time. It’s easier to take necessary measures to prevent gum disease altogether, or at least slow it down.
Like many oral health issues, periodontal (gum) disease can be prevented when you make routine maintenance a priority. Good oral hygiene at home, a nutritious diet, and routine visits to the family dentist are the best ways to prevent gum disease altogether. The American Dental Association recommends annual dental check-ups where you’ll get a full oral work-up and a cleaning. If you have a history of periodontal disease your dentist will recommend more frequent visits, usually every six months.
There are certain factors that contribute to your risk of developing gum disease, and most of these are preventable. For example, smoking raises your risk of gum disease as well as many health complications, so it’s best to not smoke or use tobacco products. Individuals who are diabetic, on certain medications, pregnant, or undergoing hormone changes are at higher risk for gum disease. It may not be possible to prevent it all the time, but more frequent dental visits and personal hygiene can slow or stop harmful bacteria and gum disease in its tracks.
When it comes to oral health, the gums and teeth work together for a healthy mouth. Gum disease can lead to high costs, extensive treatment, and can alter your smile forever. It’s your dentist’s goal to keep your smile intact as long as possible. Make sure your gum disease is caught earlier so it can be treated now.