Keep an eye out for the early signs of gum disease.
Did you notice slight bleeding around your gums after the last time you flossed your teeth? If so, you may be experiencing one of the most common signs of early gum disease, also called gingivitis.
Unfortunately, proper gum care may require more than daily brushing and flossing. But anyone going through the stages of gum disease can recover and enjoy a healthier mouth. Let’s explore everything you need to know about identifying, treating, and preventing periodontal disease.
What is gum disease?
The average person’s mouth is full of bacteria. These microscopic entities can be beneficial, but they can also be harmful. Excessive bacteria can lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and gum disease. For this reason, it’s crucial to brush your teeth, floss, and use mouthwash each day.
When bacteria isn’t brushed and rinsed away, it can begin to infect the soft tissues inside your mouth, including your gums. Your gumline is crucial in keeping your teeth straight and anchored to your jaw. As such, gum disease (when left untreated) can lead to tooth loss, severe gum recession, and dangerous infections inside your jaw.
Why is gum disease dangerous?
Aside from pain and discomfort, this disease is dangerous because of its associated risks. Periodontal disease has been linked to an increased risk of:
- Heart disease
- Certain cancers
- Premature labor
Who gets gum disease?
Anyone can develop gum disease. Unfortunately, even those who take excellent care of their teeth and gums can begin to notice early warning signs of gingivitis. Notably, nearly half of all adults in the US have some form of this disease. As such, it’s a prevalent issue that impacts millions of people every year. But what causes gum disease?
Some of the most common causes of gingivitis and periodontal disease include:
- A high-sugar diet
- A diet low in nutrients
- A consistently dry mouth
- Tobacco use
- Immune system disorders
- Certain medications
- Genetic history of gum disease
- A lack of daily dental hygiene care
Signs of Gum Disease
Do you suspect you may be developing a form of this disease? If so, there are several common warning signs you’ll want to be aware of, including:
- Gums that bleed during flossing
- Reddened gums
- Swollen or painful gums
- Receding gumlines
- Bad breath
- Shifting teeth
Stages of Gum Disease
The average person begins life with a healthy set of gums. But due to lifestyle habits, malnutrition, medication use, or other causes), this healthy tissue can develop signs of disease.
There are several stages of gum disease. But the three most notable stages are:
- Advanced periodontitis
Each stage progresses into the next one if left untreated. For this reason, gingivitis tends to be the most reversible form of this disease. That said, those with advanced periodontitis aren’t without treatment options.
Let’s take a quick moment to explore these stages in greater depth to help you better identify their warning signs, causes, and potential treatment options. That way, you can choose a general dentistry service that meets your needs.
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It’s also one of the most common types of gum disease that people experience, affecting both adults and children worldwide.
This stage of gum disease causes a person’s gums to become swollen and easily irritated. One of the most common symptoms of gingivitis is gums that bleed during brushing or flossing. If you’ve noticed any of these signs, be sure to seek gum disease treatment as soon as possible. Treating gingivitis at the first signs of danger is the best way to reverse the disease and prevent it from returning.
One of the best ways to treat gingivitis is to have twice-annual dental checkups. Regular dental care can spot the early warning signs of gingivitis and provide deep cleanings to keep it at bay.
Naturally, daily brushing and flossing are also crucial for treating and preventing gingivitis. Your dentist may also recommend that you reduce your sugar intake or switch to an antiseptic mouthwash.
The second stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. During this stage, the gums may begin to recede from the teeth. This can cause small pockets to form between the gumline and the teeth. These pockets are prone to catching bits of food or drink, making them a hotspot for bacteria growth. Unfortunately, periodontitis can be painful, uncomfortable, and damaging to a person’s self-esteem.
Still, periodontal care is widely available. As with gingivitis, immediate treatment is the best way to begin experiencing relief from bothersome symptoms and improving your mouth’s overall health. If left untreated, periodontitis can quickly develop into advanced periodontitis.
Depending on the level of periodontitis, your dentist may recommend regular deep cleanings (four times per year) or gum surgery. In some cases, heavily affected teeth may need to be extracted.
The final stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. This stage typically occurs when the previous warning signs of gingivitis and periodontitis are ignored.
Gum recession in this stage may be severe enough to lead to significant tooth loss or tooth shifting. Consequently, it’s crucial to seek immediate dental care if you suspect you may be within this stage.
Regular dental care is the best way to treat and combat advanced periodontitis. However, unlike gingivitis and mild forms of periodontitis, regular deep cleanings and daily dental hygiene may not be enough.
Individuals with highly progressed advanced periodontitis may also require gum surgery, tooth extraction, and antibiotics. While these procedures may seem daunting, they are the first step toward recovering and healing.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease is entirely preventable. While genetics may influence a person’s chance of developing this disease, unfavorable lifestyle habits and a lack of regular dental and gum care tend to be the primary causes.
Preventing this disease starts with regular dental hygiene habits, but daily brushing and flossing may not be enough. Overall, some of the best ways to prevent this disease include:
- Avoiding tobacco use
- Reducing sugar intake
- Seeking regular dental treatments
- Enjoying a healthy diet
- Drinking plenty of water
If you notice any signs of gum disease, it’s crucial to seek immediate dental care. The sooner you seek treatment, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to reverse the disease.
It’s also worth noting that individuals with highly progressed forms of this disease aren’t lost causes. No matter what stage of periodontal disease you might be in, there are treatment options that can help.
Find a Dentist Near Me
The early stages of gum disease start with inflammation and bleeding during flossing. But later stages, notably advanced periodontitis, can lead to tooth loss and severe gum recession. While early treatment is the best way to prevent this disease, it’s never too late to seek dental care. You can find a caring and experienced dentist near Granite City, IL, in only a matter of minutes!
Be sure to schedule an appointment today to start your journey toward a brighter, healthier smile!