It’s possible to have gum disease and not even know it. That’s why it’s so important to visit your Dental Associates dentist regularly. Your dentist will inspect your gums to make sure they are healthy, and your dental hygienist will give your teeth a thorough cleaning to make sure all the plaque that causes gum disease is removed. This page will educate you on the various stages of gum disease, including gingivitis, and how gum disease can cause bleeding gums and bad breath. In addition, we’ll discuss cosmetic gum surgery and what can be done about a “gummy smile.”
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and it develops when plaque builds up along and under the gum line. It’s actually quite common. A lot of adults develop gingivitis, usually when they’re in their 30’s and 40’s. Most cases are less severe, but if gingivitis goes untreated, it can advance into a more serious gum disease, called periodontitis.
The problem with gum disease is that it’s possible to have it and not even know it. Gum disease initially is painless, but can cause a lot of problems if not treated, including the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth. Good oral health care, which includes brushing your teeth twice a day, cleaning between your teeth daily with dental floss, eating a balanced diet, and visiting Dental Associates at least twice a year is the best form of prevention, and the best way to keep your smile healthy; teeth, gums and all!
Symptoms of gum disease:
Gum disease can happen to anyone, but there are a few risk factors that play a role in how young you are when you get it, and how quickly it can affect you.
If you do get gum disease, it’s vital to treat it as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Not only can the early stages of gingivitis quickly advance to periodontitis, if gum disease goes untreated, it may worsen other health issues too. In fact, periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease. The cause and effect relationship is still being studied, but research shows that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to have heart disease.* One theory is that the bacteria that causes gum disease can get into the bloodstream, which can clog the arteries and lead to a heart attack or stroke. So, practicing good oral hygiene and preventing gum disease goes well beyond your smile and goes right to your heart!
Whether you have a mild case of gingivitis or a more complex case of periodontitis, Dental Associates has trained periodontists who can take care of your gums and get you smiling again. Periodontics is the dental specialty that focuses exclusively on diseases of the gums, and periodontists work to diagnose and treat this disease before it destroys the gums and other supporting structures around the teeth.
When it comes to treating gum disease, it all depends on the severity of the case. Every case is handled on an individual basis, and your Dental Associates periodontist will offer you the best options. Treatments might include cleaning the infected root surfaces, removing the damaged tissue, and performing regenerative procedures. Good oral hygiene for a lifetime is key to preventing periodontal disease. Early detection and treatment is key to stopping it.
Gums hold your teeth in place, so it’s important to keep them strong. An infection in the gums is different than an infection in a tooth, but it should be addressed with the same thought and concern. Whether your gums are infected by a food particle stuck between your gum line and your tooth, or your oral health or genetics causes you to be affected by gingivitis or periodontitis, our Dental Associates periodontists will treat the infection and have you smiling again soon.
A common treatment for gum infection is scaling and root planing. With this treatment, your periodontist or a dental hygienist removes the plaque by scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. Then the root is planed, which gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the bacteria collects and removes any bacteria that’s already present.
If the periodontal disease is severe, surgery to remove the infection might be needed.
Flap surgery is a procedure involving lifting back the gums to expose of the tooth to allow removing the tartar. The gums are sutured back in place so the tissue fits snugly around the tooth again. After surgery gums fit more tightly around the teeth and are easier for both your dental hygienist and you to keep clean. Other procedures involve bone and tissue grafts. These procedures help regenerate the area to not only treat the gum disease but to also prevent it in the future.
Healthy gums are a soft pink color, firm, and fit snuggly around your teeth. Gums should rarely bleed. If you practice good oral hygiene and brush and floss daily, your gums should stay strong and pink and hold your teeth in firmly forever. If you notice your gums are puffy, red, or bleeding, you may have the onset of gum disease.
If you haven’t flossed in awhile, your gums may bleed a little. If you take blood thinners, your gums may bleed a little, as well, but with good oral hygiene this should be minimal and only occasionally. If you’re pregnant, your gums may bleed a little. But that’s it. Bleeding, swollen and tender gums are never normal. So see your dentists as soon as you notice your gums looking or feeling different than usual.
Learn more about dental care during pregnancy.
We’ve all eaten something that has given us bad breath. Garlic and onions are the usual suspects, and it’s perfectly normal for these strong smelling, strong tasting foods to give us a case of bad breath. If your bad breath is persistent, however, it may be a case of gum disease.
Bad breath, medically called halitosis, happens when you don’t brush and floss your teeth as you should. Food particles stay in your mouth and foster the growth of bacteria between your teeth, on your tongue and around your gums. When that bacteria goes unchecked, it can lead to gum disease, which starts as a mild case of gingivitis but can easily escalate to a more severe case of periodontitis. A visit to your Dental Associates dentist is the best way to diagnose the problem.
A periodontist treats gum disease. But a periodontist can also fix a “gummy smile” with a cosmetic procedure called a gum lift. Basically, a gum lift takes the same technology and expertise that treats gum disease and applies it cosmetically to reshape the gums and bring balance to your smile. It removes any excess gum tissue and your teeth appear longer but esthetically pleasing. The result is a smile that shows off your teeth, not your gum line. A gum lift can improve how you feel about yourself, but it also allows for easier teeth cleaning and helps you be less prone to gum disease. Learn about our full range of cosmetic dentistry options.