The Silent Menace: Uncovering & Reversing the Early Signs of Gum Disease
Is there blood when brushing your teeth? Don’t panic!
We all have days where our teeth just feel a little extra sensitive. When we brush or floss, our gums start to bleed. Maybe we were just brushing a little too hard. Maybe we grabbed a hard-bristled toothbrush instead of a soft one. Or perhaps this sensitivity could be the start of something more: gum disease.
Though this may sound scary, it’s incredibly common. A great daily oral hygiene routine and regular preventive dental cleanings will help you avoid this scenario altogether. But if those early stages of gum disease do manage to creep up on you, don’t panic! It’s treatable.
What is gum disease?
According to the CDC, 47% of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. This happens when bacteria causes an infection beneath the gumline that damages the tissues that support your teeth. Even though gum disease is common, it does have serious consequences if not taken care of. Untreated infection can affect the jawbone and teeth, causing tooth loss.
How does gum disease form?
Gum disease begins when the bacteria stays on the teeth too long, which is why it is imperative that you brush your teeth two times a day and floss at least once daily. When bacteria stays on the teeth too long, it forms a slimy film called plaque. Eventually, this plaque hardens into tartar, slowly spreading and moving below the gumline.
The Signs and Stages of Gum Disease
There are three different stages of gum disease. First comes gingivitis. This is when the gums become red and swollen, and there might be some bleeding during toothbrushing. If these signs start to appear, it’s a clear message to spend a little extra time with that toothbrush and visit your dentist for an evaluation. It never hurts to stay one step ahead of gum disease!
The second stage of gum disease is periodontitis. This is when the chronic inflammation beneath the gumline begins to weaken the teeth’s supporting tissues. When this happens, the gums begin to recede, bad breath becomes persistent, and the teeth can become loose.
The final stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. During this stage, disease progresses until the teeth eventually start to fall out. But don’t panic! Your dentist is here to help you, even at this advanced stage.
What can I do? Who can help?
If you have gingivitis, there are things that you can do at home to reverse it. Be sure to brush those teeth twice a day, for two minutes at a time. Doing this increases the likelihood that you get every last hidden piece of food and bacteria off of those teeth. And at least once a day, be sure to grab the floss to get anything out of those hard-to-reach areas. Don’t forget the mouthwash! Rinsing your mouth with mouthwash once a day will help wash away any remaining loose debris, ensuring your smile stays shining brightly!
Remember that your dentist is your ally in preventing things like gum disease. Remain consistent with your biannual cleanings. Doing this will ensure that your dental team can locate and address any potential problems at their earliest stages. But even if you have a more advanced stage of periodontitis, your dentist can create a game plan just for you to help restore your smile.
Early detection is key.
If you feel as though you might have periodontitis, don’t hesitate to call your dentist. Remember: the earlier you can detect the disease, the easier it is to stop it in its tracks! Always be sure to prioritize your oral health by maintaining regular preventive cleanings and evaluations. After all, you want your teeth to be healthy and bright for the rest of your life.
Time for a healthy smile.
Remember that nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 have some stage of gum disease. Thankfully, there are things that you and your dentist can do to help your smile return to its healthiest state.
Here at Dixon, Boles and Associates, we have ways to both prevent and treat periodontitis, no matter the stage. So if you are looking for a new dental home, we are here to help! Your first appointment is only a few clicks away.