Take control of your gum disease by knowing the early warning signs.
About 50% of adults in the United States have some level of gum disease, with the numbers rising past 70% in the elderly. Tooth decay and cavities may be the primary oral health problem many patients think about, but what about your gums? Turns out gum disease is just as prevalent and often far more destructive to your mouth.
The good news about gum disease is that it does present itself in the form of some easily recognizable symptoms. Receding gums is one symptom that often triggers patients with untreated gum disease to visit us for help.
Receding Gums and Other Common Symptoms of Gum Disease
To understand gum disease symptoms, it’s important to first know the different stages of gum disease.
Gum or periodontal disease are terms used to describe chronic inflammation and eventual infection in the gums, specifically around the teeth. When gum disease first begins to occur, it’s known as gingivitis.
Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Gums that look red, irritated, or puffy.
- Gum tenderness, especially after brushing or flossing.
- Lightly bleeding gums after brushing or flossing.
Many people don’t realize they have gingivitis until their dentist points it out.
When gingivitis isn’t treated, your inflammation will worsen, resulting in periodontitis. Periodontitis is the most advanced form of gum disease and the one that causes permanent damage to gum tissue and teeth.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Swollen, painful gums.
- Bleeding and lasting tenderness when brushing or flossing.
- Receding gums.
- Teeth feeling loose or wiggly.
- Chronic bad breath.
Symptoms of periodontitis are much more easily recognized by patients as they often cause very obvious or visible changes to their smile.
Causes and Risk Factors of Developing Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by chronic inflammation of the gums, most often from poor oral hygiene. When plaque builds upon the surface of the teeth, it accumulates right around the base of the tooth along the gum line. If this plaque isn’t removed, it continues to build, pushing down against the gum and entering the gum pocket surrounding each tooth. Over time this inflammation or gingivitis turns into an infection or periodontitis.
There are also some risk factors that make it more likely for certain individuals to develop gum disease, including:
- Tobacco use (smoking or chewing).
- Underlying medical conditions (diabetes, cancer, etc).
- Improperly fitted oral appliances or dentures.
- Taking medications that cause dry mouth.
- Misaligned teeth that more easily trap food and plaque.
- Major hormonal changes from pregnancy or birth control.
If you fall into any of these categories, it doesn’t mean you will develop gum disease, but it does mean you should be vigilant in telling your dentist if anything seems amiss with your oral health.
What to Do if You Suspect You Have Gingivitis or Gum Disease
The answer to the question of what to do if you think you have gum disease is simple—reach out to your dentist for guidance. Your oral health is precious, and oral health issues, like untreated gum disease, can cause permanent damage more quickly than you might anticipate.
Receding gums is a warning sign to take very seriously.
Receding gums isn’t a normal situation or a normal aspect of aging. If you notice your teeth look longer, you can see exposed tooth roots, or your gums seem to look thin, you have a severe case of gum recession, and treatment for your periodontitis needs to begin right away.
No pain doesn’t mean no harm is being done.
While a painful toothache may rightfully send you to the dentist quickly, pain isn’t always an accurate indicator of when to seek an appointment with your dentist. Early signs of gum disease can already set future damage in motion, even though you may not necessarily feel any pain or discomfort.
The easiest way to know if you need to schedule an appointment is to ask yourself if anything seems off. If the answer is “yes,” it’s time to give us a call. From there we can determine if you need to come in to see Dr. Cooley Bentz right away or wait until your next scheduled routine visit.
Recover from your gum disease with the help of the Cooley-Bentz Dental Associates team.
With the help of Dr. Cooley Bentz and her team, you’ll be able to recover from your gum disease and come out on the other side with an even better smile than before.
How We Treat Gum Disease
We offer non-surgical treatment options in the form of periodontal therapy. Periodontal therapy involves a specialized deep cleaning process called scaling and root planing. This process removes plaque and other debris trapped within the inflamed gum pockets. Unlike standard dental cleanings that occur every six months, this periodontal cleaning will be repeated fairly often until you’re healed. If you do have advanced periodontitis, surgical treatment may be needed to help you get back your smile.
Once you’ve fully recovered from your gum disease, we’ll still be here as your go-to dental team providing comprehensive dental care, including preventive care, restorative dentistry, and cosmetic services. Your oral health will also be closely monitored for any signs of gum disease relapse, especially immediately following successful treatment.
Ready for a visit?
You can schedule your appointment with us today by calling our office or filling out this online form. We can’t wait to help you maintain a healthy and happy smile!