Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most common infections to impact adults around the world. But what is gum disease, exactly? It’s an infection around the roots of your teeth that causes the soft gum tissue and underlying bone to pull away from your smile. Gradually, this loss of structural support can lead to tooth mobility and complete loss of teeth.
Top Signs of Gum Disease (Periodontitis)
Although gum disease is diagnosed after a thorough periodontal evaluation and series of X-rays, there are some common red flags that you should be on the lookout for. Such as:
Bleeding, Swollen Gums—Almost everyone with gum disease will experience bleeding gums and inflammation. One common exception is people who smoke, who may not see either. Gums are tender to the touch, puffy, and easily bleed any time you brush or floss your teeth. Neither is healthy. If you don’t see an improvement within two solid weeks of daily brushing and flossing, it’s time to reserve a periodontal exam.
Bad Breath—Although it’s an embarrassing topic, struggling with halitosis might mean you have undiagnosed gum disease. The periodontal infections deep below the gums consist of odorous bacteria as well as dying tissues, which can create a serious smell that is impossible to cover up with a mint or mouth rinse.
Tartar Buildup—Do you have visible, hard buildup on your teeth along the gumlines? Tartar is usually yellow, brown, or even black at times. It’s the accumulation of calcified dental plaque and tends to be heaviest just below the gumlines (similar to an iceberg!) Left untouched, tartar will gradually become larger and grow deeper around the roots of the teeth, causing the surrounding tissues to detach completely. Tartar can only be cleaned off with special dental instruments; it is impossible to remove with a toothbrush or floss.
Food Getting Caught Between Your Teeth—As gum tissues become infected, they pull away from your tooth and create “pockets” around the root. In some cases, you might even see visible dark shadows or “black triangles” between your teeth near the gumlines. These extra spaces tend to be food traps during meals. You might find that you’re reaching for a toothpick or floss every time you eat.
“Long Teeth”—Gum recession is a visible symptom of gum disease that worsens over time. The more attachment loss that occurs between your gums and teeth, the greater chances there are for the tissues to creep down the root surfaces. Being “long in the tooth” isn’t essentially a rite of passage into retirement, it’s more because of physical detachment because of an oral infection. Recession can also be due to aggressive brushing or teeth grinding.
How to Treat Gum Disease
One of the best ways to avoid gum disease is to establish a good oral hygiene routine that includes brushing twice a day, daily flossing, and preventative dental cleanings every six months. Typically, early gum infections like gingivitis can be reversed in about two weeks with good dental hygiene. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for gum disease where tissue and bone loss are present.
The recommended treatment for gum disease will usually include a series of deep cleanings (scaling and root planing) to remove bacteria from below the gums, against the roots of your teeth. More aggressive disease could require grafting, medication, or referral to a specialist. Otherwise, a clean environment is established and maintenance cleanings are set up every 3-4 months to help prevent relapse. We will routinely measure your tissue attachment levels to intercept any areas of concern as quickly as possible.
Gum Disease Treatment in Vista, CA
Our dentist in Vista offers in-house periodontal therapies including deep cleanings and maintenance cleanings. If you’re looking for gum disease treatment in Vista, contact Ivory Pointe Dentistry to request your next exam.