Gum disease is a very common disease among adult men and women in the U.S. – but do you know how to spot the signs? Here’s a hint: if you see blood mixed in with toothpaste when you spit while brushing, you may want to schedule a visit to your dentist soon. Like many diseases, early detection is key to successful treatment and to prevent serious and lasting damage. February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, so now is the perfect time to take action and educate yourself on this common oral disease.
What Are the Signs of Gum Disease?
Understanding the symptoms of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is critical to identifying when your gums are in bad health and require urgent oral care. Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath, even after brushing
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Receding gums
- Tender, swollen or red gums
- Bite problems caused by shifting teeth
How Does a Dentist Detect Gum Disease?
During every dental exam, your dentist will carefully evaluate the health of your gums. In addition to checking for visual signs such as gum inflammation, they will also use a specialized probe to measure the pockets between the gums and teeth. While healthy individuals may have pockets with a depth of between 1 and 3 millimeters, people with gum disease can have much deeper pockets. This space provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and cause serious damage.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Treatment for periodontal disease depends in large part on how far the disease has advanced. In the earliest stage, known as gingivitis, a professional dental cleaning along with scaling and root planing can often be sufficient. Scaling and root planing is essentially a non-surgical deep cleaning in which plaque and tartar are removed from above and below the gum line and rough spots on the tooth are smoothed out.
For patients with more advanced gum disease, one of the following surgical treatments may be recommended:
- Pocket reduction surgery – Procedure to remove tartar and reduce the size of the space between the gum and tooth.
- Bone graft – Procedure to stimulate bone growth in order to replace parts of the jawbone that have been destroyed by gum disease.
- Soft tissue graft – Tissue taken from the top of the mouth is used to reinforce thin gums or address receding gums.
- Bone surgery – Following pocket reduction surgery, this procedure reshapes bone around the tooth to decrease craters where bacteria can collect and grow.
Now that you know a little more about gum disease, you can take appropriate steps to keep your gums and mouth in excellent shape! Prevention is key when it comes to keeping a healthy smile on your face!
About the Author
Men and women in Fort Worth know they can trust Dr. Kelly Blair to take excellent care of their overall dental health, including the health of their gums. The Texas native is an active member of the American Dental Association and works with specialty diagnostic experts to detect and diagnose gum disease in the earliest stages. Learn more about gum health awareness during February by visiting Dr. Blair’s website or by calling 817-737-5155.