If you floss or brush too hard, it can hurt your gums, but if you develop gum disease, regular brushing, eating, or simply touching your gums may be painful or cause bleeding.
Gum disease usually begins as gingivitis, and if left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. Depending on the severity of your periodontal disease, different treatments may be necessary, so check out these facts you should know about preventing, fighting, and treating gum disease.
Gum Disease Is Preventable With Good Oral Hygiene
Gum disease is an infection in the gums, and this infection is caused by an abundance of bacteria in the mouth. Typically, you'll have more bacteria if you have lots of plaque and tartar, which is left on your teeth after eating or drinking certain beverages. For this reason, brushing and flossing on a regular basis, is necessary to keep the teeth clean and reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth.
In addition, schedule regular professional cleanings. These professional cleanings are the only safe way to remove tartar without damaging enamel (which can increase the risk of decay and infection). Ideally, avoid foods and beverages high in sugar because they create more plaque.
The Symptoms of Gingivitis Are Usually Reversible
At first, symptoms are mild and you may not even notice them until the dentist points them out, but as the disease advances, symptoms may include:
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Dark red gums
- Tender gums
As the disease continues to worsen, you may also notice the first signs of gum recession as your gums pull away from the teeth to create pockets.
In most cases, if you have gum disease, the condition is reversible. You'll need to start taking great care of your teeth, but to fight the infection a professional deep cleaning may be necessary. This procedure allows the dentist to clean and smooth teeth below the gum line (inside the pockets). Antibiotics may also be inserted into the pockets, applied on the gums or prescribed as an oral mouth rise.
Untreated Gum Disease Causes Permanent Damage
If you don't treat your gingivitis, it can advance to periodontitis, which affects the gums and the jawbone. You may notice more gum recession or gum loss as the disease destroys gum tissue.
When the disease reaches the jawbone, it causes the bone to weaken, making it harder to support teeth. This, and reduced gum tissue, make it more likely for teeth to become loose or even fall out.
At this stage, all the symptoms are no longer reversible. Your dentist will work with you to fight the infection, so your gums can heal. Overtime, they may become a healthy pink color again, and small pockets may shrink. The bone and gums, however, will not regrow tissue without help.
Surgical Treatment May Be Necessary for Advanced Gum Disease
Surgical treatments are available to help treat permanent effects of advanced gum disease. To remove pockets, a gum flap surgery may be necessary. During the surgery, the gums are cut to expose the entire tooth root. The area is cleaned and smoothed and the gums repositioned.
If you have tissue loss, a graft may be required. Gum grafts use tissue from another part of your mouth, and bone grafts use synthetic bone, a donor bone, or bone from another part of your body. Once the area heals, your jaw can better support your teeth (as well as dental bridges and dental implants to replace missing teeth from gum disease).
Gum disease may be common, but it isn't a normal part of aging. With good care and cleaning, you can prevent gum disease; but even if you do develop gingivitis or periodontitis, treatment options are available. If you would like to know more about gum disease and treatment options, contact us at Posada Dental today.