Periodontal disease affects millions of adults worldwide and is the leading cause of tooth loss. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into gum disease. Gum disease can be treated to prevent complete tooth and bone loss within the mouth, but it is important to take steps to prevent the disease altogether. If you have been told that you have gingivitis, it is crucial that you practice better oral hygiene and keep up with regular bi-annual dental appointments.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease occurs when the inner layer of bone and gum begin to separate from the teeth. As the gums and bone pull away, small pockets form around the teeth themselves, allowing bacteria, food particles and plaque to get in there and further irritate the gums. As this bacteria irritates the gums, inflammation and infection ensue and the gums separate even more from the teeth in response to infection. If left completely untreated, tooth loss can occur and extensive procedures may be needed to correct your dentition.
What are Early Warning Signs of Gum Disease?
As with most other diseases and health disorders, warning signs are often seen prior to the full development of the disease. Gingivitis is the precursor to periodontal disease, so if you’ve been told that you have gingivitis, it is important to keep up with proper oral care habits to prevent it from progressing into gum disease. Some of the most common warning signs that you have gum disease include:
- Foul breath (despite regular brushing)
- Red, swollen and irritated gums
- Bleeding gums (especially when brushing and flossing)
- Loose teeth
- Gum irritation and pain
- Receding gums (teeth appear longer)
Regular bi-annual dental appointments include a periodontal examination that will check for signs of gingivitis and gum disease. During these appointments, the pockets around your teeth will be measured to see if either gingivitis or gum disease is present and you will be given information on the best course of action to correct the problem. This is why regular preventative care is so crucial in the fight against periodontal disease. If, however, you do not get into the office as often as you should, it’s important to look for these warning signs and receive care as soon as possible so that the disease is not allowed to progress any further. The health of your gums is a complete reflection of the health of your smile.