How to Spot Gum Disease
Early detection is important when it comes to getting ahead of any ailment, gum disease included. When caught early, gum disease can be easily treated but advanced gum disease cannot be reversed. Depending on the severity, the different stages of gum disease come with varying symptoms.
How gum disease occurs
In its early stages, gum disease is medically known as gingivitis. It is caused by accumulated plaque that has been allowed to remain in the mouth for a while. Plaque can harden to form tartar, which can only be removed by a dental professional.
Since plaque and tartar are basically colonies of bacteria, they lead to the inflammation of the gums. That is how gum disease starts. The early stages of gum disease often have subtle symptoms that could be ignored until gum disease morphs into something scary.
What does gingivitis look and feel like?
Gum disease comes with different symptoms. Some of them include:
- •Inflammation of the gums
- •Bad breath that just will not go away, even after brushing
- •Receding gums: To determine if the gum is receding, feel for notches at the base of the tooth near the gum
- •Tooth sensitivity
- •Difficulty chewing
- •Bleeding gums. This can be caused by all sorts of things like a stiff toothbrush, overzealous flossing, hormonal changes in women, blood thinners or other illnesses.
A consultation with a dentist is the absolute best way to confirm your suspicions.
How does the dentist diagnose gingivitis?
After a patient informs the dentist about their suspicions, the dentist may do some of the following things:
- •Check the patient's gums for inflammation
- •Use a probe to measure if there are any pockets (separation between the gum and the base of the tooth). A healthy mouth has pockets that are between 1 and 3mm deep.
- •Examine the patient's dental history
How to treat gingivitis
The main aim of treatment is to control the risk of an infection. The dentist removes the bacteria-laden plaque or tartar. The rough surfaces on the teeth are also smoothed down. This prevents plaque from gathering in the uneven surfaces of the teeth. In addition, antibiotics are often prescribed. The patient also needs to take steps to improve their oral hygiene.
What about advanced gum disease?
Also known as Periodontitis, advanced gum disease is what happens when gingivitis goes untreated. In addition to the symptoms of gingivitis, there are additional symptoms that are hard to ignore like:
- •The gums pulling away from the teeth and forming pockets which become infected. Pus may be visible
- •The mouth tries to fight the infection and the bacteria in the infected pockets produce toxins. The byproducts of the infection eat away at the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place.
- •The teeth become loose and may fall out.
- •The dentist can diagnose periodontitis by checking for bone damage with an X-ray and using a probe to check for pockets.
If the damage to the teeth, gum and jaw are extensive the dentist may refer the patient to a specialist, who might recommend surgical treatment. Mild periodontal disease can be treated with a deep cleaning and medication, treatments that are often used to address gingivitis as well.
Proactivity beats reactivity
Maintaining dental hygiene and examining your gums regularly guarantees that they remain healthy. If you spot a symptom that worries you, consult your dentist immediately.
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Looking for gum disease treatment near the 94040 area? Call Smiles Dental Care at (650) 563-1180.
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