Recognizing the Early Signs of Gum Disease

Recognizing the Early Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a progressive bacterial infection that inflames and destroys the gum tissue. If you don’t maintain good oral hygiene — brushing, flossing, and getting regular dental checkups — it can become established and worsen over time. In the United States, it’s a serious problem: Nearly 50% of adults over 30 have mild to severe symptoms, and it’s the leading cause of tooth loss.

At the dental practice of Kiran Rapal, DDS, Inc.Dr. Rapal and her staff are passionate about preventing gum disease, which is why they educate their patients in proper oral hygiene habits and how to recognize the early signs of a problem, when it’s easier to treat. Here’s what you need to know about recognizing the early signs of gum disease.

How gum disease develops

If you’re a little lax on the brushing and flossing routine, bacteria can build up on the teeth and gums. They consume the sugar from food debris, forming a sticky plaque. This irritates the gum lining, causing redness, tenderness, and gums that bleed when you brush. This initial stage of gum disease is called gingivitis.

If you don’t treat gingivitis, the plaque hardens into tartar that reaches below the gumline, causing additional inflammation. Gingivitis turns into periodontitis, in which the bacteria produce toxins that irritate and damage the gums. The gums themselves swell, turn a darker red color, become painful when chewing, and start to recede from the tooth roots. Recession creates pockets where tartar and bacteria continue to build up, perpetuating the problem.

If you still don’t treat the condition, the gums may pull completely away from the teeth, leaving the roots exposed. They become sensitive to heat and cold, and the receding gums weaken the connective tissue holding the teeth in place. Permanent teeth become loose and may even fall out. And the persistent infection destroys both gum and bone tissue, the latter of which is called alveolar bone loss.

Recognizing the early signs of gum disease

Healthy gums should be firm, pale pink, and fit tightly around the tooth roots. Signs of gingivitis include:

If you notice any of these signs, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rapal. The sooner you get proper care, the better your chances of reversing any damage from gingivitis and preventing it from turning into periodontitis.

Who is at risk from gum disease?

Aside from having poor oral hygiene habits, additional factors can put you at risk for gum disease:

If you have any of these risk factors, you need to pay special attention to proper oral hygiene, including getting professional dental cleanings twice a year.

Treating gum disease

Dr. Rapal addresses gum disease with a couple of different methods.

Deep, professional dental cleaning

In a procedure called scaling and root planing, Dr. Rapal removes all traces of plaque, tartar, and bacterial components. The scaling removes tartar and bacteria from tooth surfaces and from under the gum line. Root planing eliminates bacterial byproducts created from the inflammation and smooths the root surfaces, which discourages further buildup and allows for proper healing.

Laser dentistry

Dr. Rapal uses lasers to heat the tissue, destroying bacteria and reducing the inflammation. Since the laser also cauterizes tissue, it sterilizes the treated area. This method can be used instead of instruments for scaling and root planing, as well.

If you have any of the early signs of gum disease, it’s time to come into Kiran Rapal, DDS, Inc. for an assessment and professional treatment. Call our Saratoga, California, office at 408-864-7010 or book online with us today.

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