Brushing and flossing daily and getting twice yearly professional checkups and cleanings is your best defense against gum disease, but that doesn’t mean you’re immune. Bacteria are sneaky and can infiltrate your soft tissues and set up shop without you knowing it.
Before long, the infection causes changes in your gum tissue that you may overlook at first, but you will soon if you don’t address the problem.
That’s why Dr. Ben Mohrman and our Affordable Dental East team in Indianapolis, Indiana, want all our patients to learn how to spot the signs of gum disease. We can treat gum disease easily when we catch it early, but treatment becomes more complicated as the problem progresses.
We mentioned that gum disease occurs in stages, and gingivitis is the first stage. It happens when bacteria-laden plaque builds up on your teeth, as a result of not brushing and flossing regularly.
Although poor dental hygiene is the No. 1 cause of gum disease, it’s not the only one.
Smoking affects your gums and makes you more susceptible to gingivitis, as do diabetes, hormonal changes (think pregnancy and menopause), and certain medications. You can even develop gingivitis from an allergic reaction, a viral or fungal infection, poor nutrition, or foreign particles that get wedged under your gums.
Healthy gums are light pink and firm. Signs that indicate gingivitis include:
In the early phase of gingivitis, Dr. Mohrman can treat the problem by cleaning your teeth thoroughly and ensuring you follow a good dental hygiene routine.
If you ignore gingivitis, gum disease advances and becomes periodontitis — gingivitis’ more complicated cousin. Many of the symptoms of gingivitis and periodontitis overlap, but periodontitis symptoms are more severe. They typically include bleeding, receding gums that are red and swollen, plus:
When gum disease reaches this point, you probably have plaque and tartar well below your gumline, so Dr. Mohrman performs a deep-cleaning technique called planing and scaling. He uses a local anesthetic to numb the area and keep you comfortable while clearing debris and restoring your teeth’s surfaces and roots.
Periodontitis, left unchecked, can lead to tooth decay that destroys your teeth by creating cavities that need fillings or other types of restorations, or inner-tooth infections that need root canals.
The bacteria can even get into your bloodstream and infect other areas of your body, including your heart.
Don’t let gum disease spin out of control. Stop it by visiting us at Affordable Dental East regularly and put an end to bacterial growth early. Call us or book online.