Everyone knows that cavities harm a healthy teeth. But what about that other smile saboteur? That’s right: gum disease.
Gum disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding your teeth, and it’s a reality for more than half of adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it’s possible you have it without even knowing it. Without regular dental exams and cleanings, it easily goes undetected until it has caused damage to the gum line and even teeth.
But here’s some good news: With a little help from a highly skilled team of dental professionals — like the one you’ll find at the office of Dr. Jeffery A. Spilman in St. Petersburg, FL — it’s easy to prevent gum disease and repair the damage the infection might have caused.
Read on for three common symptoms of gum disease. Then, if you’ve experienced any of these symptoms or simply want to take prevention seriously, call us at 727-645-4727. We’ll help you get your gum health back on track and keep it that way for years to come.
1. Red, Swollen, Or Bleeding Gums
Healthy gums are typically pink in color, although it does vary from person to person. If they’ve taken on a rusty red color, or if they bleed when you brush or floss, it’s time to see the dentist.
Red, swollen, or bleeding gums, as well as gums that are tender, are often the first sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis is a more mild form of gum disease that is easily cured. However, many people ignore these symptoms or don’t know that they’re indicative of a larger problem. Left alone, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, an aggressive form of gum disease that’s marked by more serious damage to the gum line.
Daily flossing with proper technique can help prevent gingivitis. That’s because gum disease is caused by bacteria that feed on food particles that get stuck between your teeth and along the gum line. When the bacteria consume the food debris, they emit a mild acid, which irritates the gums and can lead to infection.
Luckily, early stages of gum disease can often be cured with a deep cleaning at the dentist’s office. At the office of Jeffery A. Spilman, D.D.S., we perform a procedure called scaling and root planing.
Here’s how it works. First, we’ll thoroughly numb your gums to avoid discomfort. Then, we’ll gently clean under the gum line using special tools. We’ll also carefully smooth the roots of your teeth to discourage future bacterial buildup. You should be comfortable throughout the procedure, which is performed in four quadrants.
2. Persistent Bad Breath
Bad breath can be caused by a number of things, but if you experience it along with gum tenderness or swelling, it’s a likely indicator of gum disease. Why would gum disease result in bad breath?
Well, gum disease is, after all, an infection caused by bacterial buildup. Similar to the way that neglecting to brush your teeth can result in halitosis, lax flossing routines and other poor oral hygiene habits can contribute to a foul odor or unpleasant taste in your mouth.
Luckily, a deep cleaning can eradicate the infection that’s causing the odor. If you’re experiencing bad breath, it’s always a good idea to see the dentist. They’ll be able to determine whether gum disease is the cause and solve the problem so you can move through the world with confidence again.
3. Gum Recession
Have your teeth taken on a strange, elongated appearance? Or have your teeth become hypersensitive to foods that are hot, cold, or sweet? If so, it might be because your gum tissue has begun to pull away from your teeth. This is generally a symptom of periodontitis.
At its most severe, gum recession can create “pockets” or gaps between your crown (the visible part of the tooth) and the gum line. When this happens, it can expose the roots of your teeth, threatening the bony support structure that connects the tooth to the jaw bone.
These pockets become prime real estate for bacteria, which leaves the roots of your teeth susceptible to decay. In the worst case scenario, the roots can be so badly compromised that the tooth needs to be extracted.
But if you’ve already noticed that your gum line has started to recede, don’t panic. It’s possible to eradicate even severe infections and restore the gum line. In some cases, we can rehabilitate your gums in our office. But for more severe cases, we’ll refer you to a trusted periodontal surgeon.
Get Your Gum Health Back On Track
Without healthy gums, it’s difficult to maintain a healthy smile. That’s why it’s so important to address gum disease as soon as possible. It’s very rare that periodontal disease goes away on its own.