How can I tell if I have gum disease?

Gum disease exists today as one of the leading causes of lost teeth in the United States. In fact, over 90% of American citizens are currently living with gum disease every day of their lives. Gum disease, also known as both gingivitis and periodontitis in its varying stages, can happen to patients of all ages, and will often exist for years before patients are even aware that they experiencing this problem at all. The effects of gum disease can be wide spread, causing harm to many of the aspects of a healthy smile at an alarming rate. However, the only way to effectively prevent gum disease from ever forming inside your smile is to maintain regular visits for oral health care cleanings and examinations.  The key to the treatment of gum disease is an early diagnosis with preventative care that will stop damage from happening to you smile.

Gingivitis is the name given to the very initial stages of gum disease. These beginnings of gum disease will cause no permanent harm to your smile, but they can quickly grow and spread into the latter stages which can without proper care. The problem with gum disease is that many mistake the effects for simple poor oral hygiene, when in fact poor dental hygiene is actually the cause of the problem. Gum disease at all stages is spread by the rising rate of naturally occurring bacteria in the smile. When these numbers grow beyond the healthy levels, they can begin to attack the gum lines of your smile. Symptoms of gingivitis include bad breath, red gum lines, swollen gums, gum lines which bleed during regular oral hygiene and even during other activities such as biting into a firm piece of fruit, as well as halitosis or a permanent bad taste in the mouth. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should visit your local dentist as soon as possible. These early stages of gum disease can be treated often very easily with a regular professional cleaning maintained at least twice a year or as recommended by your local dentist.

Unfortunately, without professional care in a timely manner, gum disease will spread throughout a patient’s mouth to continue to cause growing levels of damage and permanent harm. The process begins with a small gap that occurs between the roots of the teeth and the lining of your gums, caused by the effects of bacteria destroying these soft tissues over time. Receding gum lines are one of the first symptoms which patients should be on the lookout for when living with symptoms of the initial stage gingivitis, as gum line recession is often the first sign that the disease has progressed into the productive stages of development. Symptoms of periodontitis include gum line recession, teeth which feel loose or otherwise can be moved with little effort, persistent bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth which has become constant, deep pits or pockets which have formed between your teeth and gum lines, changes in the fit of dentures, sores along your gum lines, discharge or pus which occurs between the gum lines and teeth, and even changes in the way which your upper and lower jaws of teeth fit together. Receding gum lines often cause the teeth to appear to be longer than they normally do, and as such it is important to remember that adult teeth will not grow in time. If your teeth do appear to be longer or otherwise taller, be sure to visit your dentist as soon as possible.

Care in the early stages of gingivitis can prevent damage from happening to your teeth entirely through the use of non-surgical treatments. Gingivitis care can often be as simple as professional cleanings to remove stubborn plaque and tartar, which works to lower bacteria levels and stop the illness from spreading. If diagnosed in the early stages of recession, the beginnings of destructive periodontitis can also be treated through a type of cleaning which is known ad root planing and scaling. This method of care works by gently pulling back the gum lines from the roots of the teeth and cleaning the spaces between, working to target the source of periodontitis and stopping loss of teeth or jaw bone from occurring. By becoming knowledgeable about the symptoms and signs of gum disease in it many stages, and simply maintaining regular visits to your dentist at least once every six months, you can work to prevent gum disease from causing harm to your smile.