4 Signs of Gum Disease
Gum disease is the second most common oral health problem affecting Americans, after tooth decay. Nearly 50% of adults between the ages of 45 and 64 have some degree of gum disease. However, many people are not aware that they have it because they don’t know how to recognize the signs. Here are the top 4 signs of gum disease and what to do if you notice any of them.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, for which the clinical term is periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the periodontal (gum) tissue. It is caused by plaque, a sticky film made of food residue and bacteria, that clings to the teeth. When it is not removed by brushing, flossing, and regular dental cleanings, it hardens into tartar (calculus). The bacteria contained in hardened plaque reaches a level of maturity that causes an infection in the gum tissue.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease is characterized by the following 4 signs:
- Red, inflamed gums. Healthy gum tissue is typically a light pink color. If your gums are bright red it is a sign of inflammation, which is caused by infection due to gum disease.
- Swollen, tender gums. If your gums are swollen or tender to the touch, it is likely a sign of infection. In some cases an abscess will form on the gum tissue, a pimple-like bump with a white head, which is a sign that gum disease has progressed.
- Bleeding gums. If you have gum disease your gums may bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, or when you bite into something crunchy like an apple or celery. The gums bleed due to inflammation from the infection.
- Loose teeth. As gum disease progresses it can cause the gums to recede, or pull away from teeth. This, along with damage to the jaw bone, can cause the teeth to become loose and even fall out.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have Gum Disease?
If you have any of the above signs of gum disease, the first thing to do is talk to your dentist. A dentist can provide treatment for gingivitis (early stage gum disease) and mild to moderate gum disease.
Your dentist may refer you to a specialist if your gum disease is severe or has caused significant damage to your gums and jaw bone. A periodontist specializes in treating gum disease and preventing it from recurring.
Gum disease that progresses without treatment can eventually cause damage to the alveolar bone, the jaw bone that supports the teeth. Damage to this bone may need to be corrected with dentoalveolar surgery. An oral surgeon can perform surgery to reshape the bone to reverse the damage caused by gum disease and help keep it under control.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease
Can gum disease be prevented?
Preventing gum disease is much easier than treating it. By brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and going to the dentist to have your teeth cleaned every 6 months, most people will be able to avoid gum disease and the resulting damage.
When is an oral surgeon required for gum disease treatment?
Gum disease is very common and can usually be treated by a dentist or periodontist. However, gum disease that goes untreated for a long period of time can cause significant damage to the jaw bone that supports the teeth. This is when an oral surgeon can be beneficial to provide surgical correction for this damage.
Who Provides Alveolar Surgery?
If you are in need of dentoalveolar surgery due to damage caused by gum disease, Oral Facial Surgery of Orange Park provides this procedure. We specialize in oral surgery procedures to repair the damage from chronic gum disease and improve your oral health going forward.
To learn more, call 904-269-5195 or contact us today to schedule an appointment.