A healthy, beautiful smile begins with healthy teeth and gums. The only way to keep them that way is to brush and floss them at least twice every day. Being lax with your oral hygiene care invites gum disease, which can potentially cause tooth loss and loss of facial structure (if those teeth aren’t replaced), and it can even harm your overall health, including your heart, lungs and blood. Fortunately, long-lasting damage to teeth and gums can be avoided.
What is periodontal disease?
Diseased gums are infections in the gum tissue surrounding the teeth and alveolar bone. This bone material is a thick ridge that holds the tooth sockets supporting your teeth. The bone is part of the maxilla and mandible, or jaws. Seeing your dentist twice a year can help prevent and detect serious gum infections so they can be treated (and even reversed if caught early enough).
While gum disease can be painful, you might also notice that your gums feel swollen, go from light pink to bright red and may even bleed when brushing your teeth. Before that happens, you may not notice it when it is still in the early stages. Plaque is the culprit, and it’s the reason why you brush and floss every day, to get rid of the sticky bacterial biofilm that coats and builds up on your teeth. Left unchecked, plaque inflames the gum tissue until it destroys your teeth, jaw and gums.
Look for these periodontal disease warning signs
- Your gums look red instead of pink
- You notice bleeding or pus between teeth
- Your gums are pulling away from the teeth
- Your gums feel sore when you eat, touch them or floss
- You have abnormally bad breath
- Your teeth feel loose
- You notice that your bite has changed
- You find that your dentures aren’t fitting correctly anymore
- You have oral sores around the gumline that linger
Why is your periodontal disease happening?
Plaque buildup from poor oral hygiene habits is a huge reason you can end up at greater risk of periodontal disease. Other factors include having crooked teeth, interfering with your ability to clean properly, allowing plaque to thrive and eventually harden into tartar. For women, pregnancy hormones can affect gum health, as can diabetes. Lifestyle habits like smoking and chewing tobacco and taking certain medications can leave you struggling with poor gum health.
Treating your periodontal disease
Depending on the stage of gum disease, our periodontist may treat your infected gums non-surgically, particularly if caught early on. We may remove tartar buildup that has taken place on a tooth’s root with professional cleanings, scaling and root planing. This involves cleaning and smoothing out the tooth’s surfaces and the root below the gumline, and it can be done more than once. This is important because unchecked bacteria can infect the bone tissue and get into the bloodstream, which can harm your jawbone, heart and general health.
We can prescribe oral or topical medications like antibiotics, such as wearing a special mouth tray to treat the gum tissue and gum pockets. In more advanced stages of periodontal disease, surgery can be done to remove infected gum tissue, protect the tooth roots and stop the supportive bone from being lost. If teeth have been lost to gum disease, you may need dental implants to replace them to maintain healthy jaw function and facial structure.
Protect your oral health by practicing good oral hygiene daily and seeing your dentist regularly. If you have any concerns about your gum health, we welcome you to give our team a call to learn more or schedule a visit with our periodontist. Your teeth and gums will thank you!