The statistics are alarming when it comes to the number of adult American’s with some level of gum disease. Gum disease has several stages of severity, but any indication that you may have gum disease should be addressed. Gum disease starts with inflammation of the gums. When gum disease spreads it can affect the bone and teeth surrounding the problematic gums. It is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. Inflammation is caused the bacteria found in plaque. Plaque is an inevitable problem that is constantly collecting on your teeth. It is a colorless, sticky film. Plaque can be removed by daily brushing and flossing, but if it is left on your teeth the bacteria in plague can infect your gums.
There are three stages of gum disease; the earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. This is inflammation of the gums because of the bacteria in plaque found at the gumline. When plaque turns to tartar it releases poisonous toxins that irritate gum tissue that ultimately causes gingivitis. Unlike plaque that if tended to and removed on a daily basis by brushing and flossing, tartar can only be removed by professional dental cleaning. The good news about gingivitis is that it can be reversed completely with effective daily brushing and twice yearly professional dental cleanings.
Periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease. If gingivitis is not addressed the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth can be irreversibly damaged. Pockets can form in your gumline that trap food, debris and plaque. A dental professional can specifically treat periodontitis to help prevent further damage. Increased attention to home dental care is usually required to make strides in preventing advanced periodontitis, which is the final stage of gum disease. People with advanced periodontitis have now destroyed the fibers and bone that support the teeth which can cause the teeth to shift, loosen, and even fall out or need to be removed.
If you have red, swollen or tender gums, gums that bleed while brushing or gums that are discolored you should call your dentist. Other symptoms of gum disease include receding gums, gums that have separated or pulled away from your teeth. If your bite has changed, meaning the way your teeth fit together, this could be a symptom of gum disease. Constant bad breath or a noticeable bad taste in your mouth is another sign that there could be a problem. If you have any of the above symptoms be sure to tell your dentist at your next dental checkup and begin stepping up your home oral care with more effective daily brushing and flossing.