Gum disease occurs when the bones and tissue that surround the teeth become inflamed and infected. Also known as periodontal disease, the condition has two types. Gingivitis involves the gums alone while periodontitis is more severe and occurs in the tissue under the teeth.
How to Recognize Gingivitis
Healthy gums have a pink color and will have a firm fit against the teeth. When gingivitis is present, it will have the following symptoms:
• Swelling, redness and tenderness
• Bleeding after eating or when the teeth are flossed and brushed
Gingivitis is not always painful, which may lead to a delay in treatment.
How to Recognize Periodontitis
Unlike gingivitis, the symptoms of periodontitis are more obvious.
• Gums that recede away from the teeth
• Consistent bad breath
• A discharge of pus from the gums
• Changes in the bite
• Loose teeth
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease begins with gingivitis and proceeds to periodontitis without proper treatment. It occurs when the bacteria in plaque, a substance produced in the mouth, grow out of control due to poor oral hygiene. The bacteria feed on sugars and food particles to create toxins. In time, plaque can harden into tartar, which causes severe mouth irritation and results in the gums pulling away from the teeth, leaving large pockets that may contain pus. All of these symptoms require immediate attention from one of our qualified dentists.
Gum Pocket Test
Even if there is no gum pain, that does not mean there is no disease present. This is why dentists will perform a gum pocket test to measure the distance between the gums and where the tooth is seated. A normal pocket measures from one to three millimeters. Any distance greater than that requires treatment.
Gum Disease Treatment
Gingivitis may require antibiotics to clear up the infection. This may be done with oral medication, or a special toothpaste and mouthwash. Periodontitis is more complicated and may require the following procedures:
• Root planing and scaling. This removes the tartar buildup above and below the gum line.
• Gingivectomy. This eliminates the pockets between gums and teeth where plaque builds up.
• Flap procedure. This repairs damaged bone and cleans the roots of the teeth.
• Extraction. Teeth that cannot be saved are removed for the patient’s health.
Antibiotics may be required after each of these procedures. The patient may also need to use an antibacterial mouthwash.
In order to avoid gum disease, brush and floss daily, and see your dentist twice per year for checkups and cleanings. Eat a healthy, balanced diet without sweets and avoid poor oral habits such as smoking and alcohol consumption.