November 10, 2018
Many people are aware of the importance of healthy teeth, but might neglect to give the same care and attention to their gums. But since gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, your gums are just as important as your teeth! After all, teeth need a solid foundation of healthy gum tissue and bone to keep them in place. Fortunately, you can prevent gum disease with regular care from a dentist in Arlington and some good at-home practices. Keep reading below to learn more about the various stages of gum disease and what you can do to keep your gums healthy!
What are the Symptoms Associated With Each Stage of Gum Disease?
Early Gum Disease
The earliest stage of gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. You might notice bleeding or puffy, tender gums – all of which are associated with inflammation. Remember, healthy gums don’t hurt or bleed.
Gingivitis is incredibly common, but can be reversed with regular checkups and effective brushing and flossing.
Moderate Gum Disease
This stage is also called periodontitis or periodontal disease. At this stage, you might notice gum recession, red, bleeding or tender gums as well as chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away after brushing and flossing.
This occurs because deep “pockets” of gum tissue have formed around each tooth that collect plaque and odor-causing bacteria. In healthy gums, these pockets are 1-3mm and can be easily cleaned at home with brushing and flossing.
But in moderate stages of gum disease these pockets become deeper, making it difficult for you to keep them clean at home.
Advanced Gum Disease
In advanced stages of gum disease, much of the gum tissue, bone and supportive structures around your teeth have been lost, and you might notice that your teeth feel loose or are painful when you eat.
You may also have swollen gums, heavy bleeding after brushing or flossing, or pus around your teeth. This indicates an active infection and requires immediate care.
How Can You Prevent and Manage Gum Disease?
Although moderate and advanced gum disease can’t be cured, it can be prevented and managed. The first step is to schedule an appointment with a dentist who will evaluate your gums. If your gums are healthy or you simply have gingivitis, regular cleanings will remove plaque and tartar and help prevent gum disease from developing.
If you have moderate or advanced gum disease, the appropriate gum therapy will be recommended (along with excellent oral hygiene habits at home):
- Scaling and Root Planing – This is also referred to as a “deep cleaning,” in which the tartar and bacteria is thoroughly removed from under the gumline and the roots of your teeth are smoothed to prevent bacteria from re-accumulating. You’ll be numbed beforehand for comfort.
- Periodontal Maintenance – This procedure is a special kind of “maintenance cleaning” for patients with gum disease. It’s often recommended on 3, 4 or 6-month intervals.
By knowing the symptoms to look for and understanding the importance of professional care, you can prevent or manage this common condition. Thankfully, gum disease doesn’t mean you have to lose your teeth!
About the Author
Dr. James T. Gray is a general, cosmetic and restorative dentist in Arlington who works closely with his patients to help them have a healthy smile for life. He always takes the time to educate people on the early signs and symptoms of gum disease and what they can do to prevent tooth loss. If you have any other questions about gum disease, he can be reached via his website or at (817) 460-4131.
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