If you have healthy gums, chances are they are pink, they don’t bleed, and they are closely attached to your teeth. If you develop gum disease, you might develop any of the following symptoms:
Early-Stage symptoms (Gingivitis)
- Redness and swelling of the gums
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- Gums that bleed while brushing, flossing or eating food
Late Stage Symptoms (Periodontitis)
- Loose teeth or tooth loss
- Formation of periodontal pockets
- Persistent bad breath and/or bad taste
- Periodontitis-related plaque formation
- Misaligned teeth
- Bone loss in the area surrounding the tooth
- Painful chewing
- Pain in the area surrounding the tooth
What Causes Gum Disease?
The most common cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene. There are many different things that can contribute to this problem. Some of them include the following:
- Mouth breathing
- Improper diet
- Low saliva flow
- Diabetes mellitus
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Alcohol consumption
- Use of cigarettes or chewing tobacco
- Hormonal shifts caused by pregnancy or puberty
- Hypertension medications or other vacations that suppress the immune system in certain patients
How to Diagnose Gum Disease
In order to specifically diagnose gum disease, your dentist will most likely use a special instrument known as a periodontal probe. They will examine if your gums have a healthy pink tone and fill the space around your teeth or if they have a darker red color and are swollen.
Additionally, they will check to see whether plaque is present and whether the gums bleed easily or not. They’ll also check for gingival pockets and swelling issues. Your dentist will check X-rays to search for bone loss which could be caused by periodontal disease. They might also perform a saliva test, by which they can determine the types of bacteria that exist in your mouth.
What Are the Complications of Gum Disease?
If you do not treat gum disease, it can actually get worse and cause certain complications.
- Shifting of teeth
- Receding gums
- Abscesses of the gums
- Loss of material
- Damage to the periodontal ligament
- Loss of teeth
In addition, gum disease has also been associated with some other medical conditions, including:
Some studies have suggested that gum disease makes it harder for people with diabetes to properly regulate their blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should be especially careful if they have gum disease, as this could potentially lead to certain complications with diabetes.
Some studies have shown breathing bacteria related to gum disease into the lungs can trigger respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia.
Heart Disease or Stroke
Many studies have indicated that gum disease may increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
How gum disease is treated will depend on how far it has progressed. If it is in the early stages, it may still be treatable with one of the following two methods:
Polishing and Scaling
Dental plaque, bacteria, and tartar are removed from all tooth surfaces above and below the gum line. This is performed using a periodontal scaler, laser, or an ultrasonic device. The dentist will also polish all the teeth to remove any stains and additional bacteria.
Your dentist will perform a deep cleaning underneath the gums. In order to do this, the dentist will apply a local anesthetic and then clean the area underneath the gums to eliminate bacteria that have accumulated there.
If the gum disease has progressed to one of the more advanced stages, it may need to be treated with more drastic actions, including any of the following:
Soft Tissue Graft
In cases where the gum disease has caused significant receding of the gums, the dentist may take a small amount of tissue from the roof of the mouth, and then stitch it onto the affected area. By doing this, the dentist will be able to cover exposed tooth roots, and make your mouth look quite a bit better in the process.
Guided Tissue Regeneration
In this procedure, the dentist performs a surgery and places a small piece of fabric between the bone in the tooth. This procedure helps the bone and gum regrow and better support the teeth to prevent tooth loss.
In some severe cases, the dentist may need to perform a surgery in which small incisions are made which allow the dentist to lift the gums up and clean underneath them. The teeth are then polished to prevent the inconsistencies which allow bacteria to reproduce. Then, the gums are sutured back up and allowed to heal. The goal of this procedure is to eliminate the bacteria and plaque buildup, while also making it more difficult for bacteria to breed there in the future.
How Do We Prevent Gum Disease?
Now that we know just how serious gum disease is, and understand some of the complications may result from it, let’s explore a few ways to prevent gum disease from occurring in the first place:
Take Care of Your Teeth.
The first and most important thing you must do to prevent disease just to simply maintain good oral hygiene habits. This begins with brushing your teeth twice daily, and after meals, and extends to flossing your teeth at least once a day to prevent the accumulation of plaque on the teeth and in the gaps between them.
Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay well hydrated. Dry mouths tend to provide better homes for bacteria, which in turn leads to gum diseases such as gingivitis.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet with plenty of vitamins and minerals. This keeps the gum tissue healthy and again helps restrict the growth of bacteria. A healthy diet should also include fewer sugary drinks, sugary snacks, and sweetened foods.
Breathe through your nose, not through your mouth. Mouth breathing tends to produce dry mouth conditions, which harbor bacteria and in turn can potentially lead to gum disease.
Chew sugar-free gum and avoid sugar-sweetened gum. Sugar-free gum can help to clean the slimy plaque substance off of your teeth, which can help reduce bacteria buildup and acid buildup in the mouth.
Keep up with your regular dental cleaning visits. Seeing your dentist regularly should help you nip gum disease in the bud, rather than waiting for it to get severe and needing more drastic treatment measures.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to have any drastic actions taken to eliminate gum disease because you will have prevented it successfully using some of these tips. However, if you ever do you need to have gum disease treated, now you’ll know what is involved and how it works.
Have you ever struggled with gum disease in the past and had it successfully treated? Do you have any tips to help prevent gum disease that we might have missed? Feel free to let us know, in the comments below!