Gum disease is a serious disease that we do not take lightly at Northview Family Dental. Many patients do not even realize that they have gum disease until they come into the office, which is why we highly encourage appointments every six months in order to allow us to catch diseases, such as this early on. If gum disease is left untreated, it puts the integrity of your oral health as well as your physical health at risk. Gum disease has been tied to various physical ailments, including heart disease, infections of the respiratory system, and even diabetes. Because this disease is often hard to detect on your own, many patients do not know they have it until it is too late as periodontal disease (the advanced form of gum disease) is irreversible.
The Symptoms of Gum Disease
There are many symptoms of gum disease that can help you decipher what is going on. If you notice any of these signs, you should come to see us right away in order to catch the disease in its earliest form:
|•||Tinges of blood in the sink after brushing/flossing|
|•||Chronic halitosis (bad breath)|
|•||Teeth that appear longer|
|•||Sudden tooth sensitivities|
|•||Changes in the way your teeth fit together or are aligned|
These signs point to either early gum disease (gingivitis) or advanced gum disease (periodontitis), both of which wreak havoc on your oral health. No matter how many of these symptoms you experience, the earlier you come in, the more we can do to reverse the disease and prevent serious dental health issues, such as tooth and/or bone loss.
Gingivitis and Periodontitis
Many people do not realize that there is a vast difference between gingivitis and periodontitis. The largest difference is the fact that we can reverse gingivitis; we cannot reverse periodontitis. This means that if you let your gum disease fester, you will not be able to reverse it, but will instead have to treat the symptoms, doing everything possible to avoid tooth and/or bone loss.
Gingivitis is the disease that begins when you see tinges of blood in the sink or have swollen gums. This is the disease that we can handle in the office at your regular check-up with simply a professional cleaning. At this cleaning we will remove all plaque and bacteria, ensuring that your mouth is free from the infection. Proper oral hygiene at home is crucial at this point to ensure that the gingivitis stays away.
Periodontitis occurs when gingivitis is not cared for in the office. This means that the bacteria and tartar have had a chance to turn to plaque and infect the areas beneath the gum line. This disease can be very debilitating because it puts your overall health at risk. The severity of the infection will determine the outcome, but in many cases patients lose teeth, bones, suffer heart attacks, have respiratory issues, and have complications from diabetes. Treatment for periodontitis is much more invasive than treatment for gingivitis. We have to get beneath the gum line to remove the infection, which means at the very least a scaling and root planing procedure, which is the process to clean beneath the gum line. You may also require root canals to clean out the roots of the teeth if they were infected as well as bone grafting and Dental Implants to replace any teeth that were lost as a result of the disease.
Preventing Gum Disease
The best way to fight against gum disease is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. This means brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing at least once, and eating a healthy diet. What you consume has a large role in whether or not you contract gum disease. If you eat large amounts of sugary foods, carbohydrates, or sticky foods, your oral health is at higher risk. If instead, you choose a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables that contain the nutrients your body needs to fight off infection and does not leave sugar behind to turn into bacteria in your mouth, you will have an easier time avoiding gum disease.
At NorthView Family Dental, we do everything we can to work with our patients as a team. We help to educate you on the proper method to care for your teeth and guide you along in any lifestyle changes you must make to ensure the health of your gums.
If you are worried about gum disease, give our office a call today at (509) 590-1763 for your appointment!