Many people who have gum disease are not aware of it. Gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums. It is relatively painless in the early stages and the other symptoms are mild and not very noticeable. So how do you know if you have gum disease?
There are a few signs and symptoms of gum disease that are detectable when you know what to look for. Consider whether or not you have noticed any of the following indications of gum disease.
Do you notice some blood in the sink when you spit after brushing your teeth? This is not normal. You could be brushing too hard, but more likely it’s a sign of gum disease. Flossing your teeth for the first time in a long time could cause some slight bleeding, but just regular brushing and flossing should not produce blood. Infected gums bleed because they are inflamed from bacterial infection. Unless you have a mouth injury or unless a child has lost a baby tooth, healthy gums should not bleed.
Red or Swollen Gums
Your gums don’t have to be bleeding to show signs of gum disease. You may notice that your gums appear redder than normal rather than the light pink color they should be. This is a sign of inflammation, a side effect of gum disease. Your gums may also appear swollen or puffy, which is also due to the bacterial infection that is gum disease. If you floss or brush in the places where your gums are swollen, it’s possible that they could start to bleed.
Gum disease can cause you to have bad breath. The bacteria in your mouth release toxins that produce an odor. When a higher than usual concentration of bacteria is present, the odor is more potent. You may not notice your own breath, but if a well-meaning loved one points it out, if you notice a foul taste in your mouth, or if friends and coworkers start offering you gum or mints a lot, you may have undiagnosed gum disease.
When gum disease becomes more severe the gums will start to recede, or pull away from the teeth. If you notice that your teeth are becoming longer or that there is a line on your teeth where your gums used to be, you might have some recession due to gum disease.
When gum disease causes your gums to recede, the soft root portion of your tooth can become exposed. The root is not covered with the same thick enamel as the crown portion of your tooth, which means it is sensitive to cold, heat, and sweets. Once it is no longer protected under the gums it can cause severe sensitivity. If you notice that your teeth are suddenly becoming more sensitive, look for other signs of gum disease.
When gum disease progresses the gums can recede far enough that your teeth can become loose and even fall out. If your permanent teeth are loose at all or appear to have shifted, it could be due to advanced gum disease.
There are a few different steps to the treatment of gum disease. The first is a thorough cleaning of your teeth above and below the gum line. Special tools are used to perform a process called scaling, which refers to the removal of plaque that has hardened on the teeth. Root planing is another possible part of gum disease treatment, where the roots of your teeth are smoothed out so that there are no pockets for bacteria to hide. Your gums are then able to reattach to a smooth surface.
Medication may be required in some form to treat the infection, such as oral antibiotics or an antibiotic gel that can be applied directly to the gums.
Preventive dentistry is designed to do just as its name suggests, prevent common dental problems like gum disease. By brushing and flossing your teeth daily at home and visiting your dentist on a regular schedule (twice a year), you will increase your chances of preventing gum disease. If you notice any of the above symptoms of gum disease, contact your dentist right away so that it can be treated before it gets worse.
Savannah Dental Solutions
You can prevent gum disease by visiting Savannah Dental Solutions. Our preventive services are designed to keep common dental issues, like gum disease, from becoming a problem for you. Keep up with regular dental appointments and take care of your teeth at home in between and you can experience a lifetime of good oral health.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain health teeth and gums for life.
Aging doesn’t have to slow you down. But it may mean you need to pay more attention to your physical health, including the condition of your teeth. As you age your dental health may start to decline a bit, which is completely normal. A little extra maintenance and care can go a long way.
Here are some of the common dental problems you may face as you age.
Increased Risk of Cavities
Just as your bones can weaken as you age, your teeth may gradually weaken also. Over time, even with proper dental care, tooth enamel naturally wears down making your teeth more susceptible to cavities. Acidic foods and a lifetime of biting and chewing take their toll on your teeth. Gums recede over time as well, exposing the softer roots of your teeth that can more easily decay.
These are all reasons your risk of cavities increases as you age. It is important to visit the dentist regularly and follow proper dental hygiene at home, now more than ever.
Another of the common dental problems that come with aging is dry mouth. Dry mouth can result from certain medications you may be taking. Medication for high blood pressure, cholesterol, asthma, allergies, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s are some of the most common ones that can cause dry mouth. Adequate saliva is necessary to naturally rinse teeth and keep the bacteria levels consistent in your mouth.
If you suffer from dry mouth, it’s important to talk to your dentist about it and tell them all of the medications you’re taking. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, use an oral moisturizing spray or mouthwash, and chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva production. You could even use a humidifier when the air is dry. Your dentist may recommend an adjustment in your medication or dosage and apply a fluoride treatment after your regular cleanings.
Bacteria in the mouth can infect the gums, causing gum disease. Gum disease is more common in older adults because it is often painless and aging causes nerve endings to be less sensitive in the mouth. Once you feel the effects of gum disease, it may already be advanced. The good news is that gum disease is easily treated and prevented with proper dental care and regular visits to your dentist.
As you age your risk of developing oral cancer increases. This is another reason it is crucial to visit your dentist on a twice yearly schedule. Your dentist will carefully screen you for oral cancer as part of your routine dental exam. Mouth cancer is often painless and patients are not aware that they have it until it is detected by a dentist. When detected early, oral cancer has a high survival rate. It often appears as red or white patches on the inside of your cheeks or lips or on your tongue. Tell your dentist right away if you notice any suspicious spots.
Deterioration of Existing Dental Work
Another common dental issue that comes with age is problems with old dental work. If you have a cavity that was filled many years ago, the filling may fall out or need to be replaced. Crowns or bridges can sometimes loosen and need to be refitted. Your dentist may recognize dental work that needs to be replaced before it falls out or causes a problem during a routine cleaning.
Savannah Dental Solutions Provides Oral Care for Seniors
At Savannah Dental Solutions we understand the increased risk of dental issues in older adults. Through our adult dentistry services, we take care to look for the common dental problems seniors face so that we can be proactive in treating them in order to minimize discomfort and long term effects.
Call (912) 354-1366 or contact us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you maintain your dental health as you age.
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease affects approximately 80% of adults in the United States. Many are unaware that they have it, as the symptoms can be subtle until the disease is advanced. Yet it is important to recognize the early warning signs, as gum disease is significantly easier to treat in its earliest stages.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease starts with plaque, a sticky blend of food debris and bacteria that coats the teeth. If it is not promptly and thoroughly removed, plaque hardens into tartar, which irritates the gums and makes it easy for bacteria to invade. This leads to the chronic infection known as gum disease.
The earliest form of gum disease, or gingivitis, is inflammation. Over time, the bacteria begin to attack the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth. At this stage, known as periodontitis, you are at risk for severe decay and even tooth loss. Gum disease can also impact your overall physical health.
Below are the top signs and symptoms of gum disease. If you notice any of these warning signals, see your dentist right away.
Although halitosis, or bad breath, can be caused by many different things, chronic halitosis can be an early sign of gum disease, especially if your mouth tastes strange. The invading bacteria create distinct odors and tastes that do not go away with brushing or mouthwash.
Always call your dentist to report bad breath, even if you are certain that you do not have gum disease. Most causes are relatively minor and simple to treat, but can worsen if left untreated.
Visible or Painful Gum Changes
Healthy gums appear pink or coral, and are even across your teeth. They feel firm to the touch, and are not painful or sore.
Gingivitis causes mild irritation to the gums. If yours are swollen, red, or tender, especially during brushing or flossing, you might be suffering from early gum disease.
As gum disease advances, the gums actually start to recede from the teeth. Your teeth will start to look longer, and your gums might appear uneven throughout your mouth. These are signs of worsening periodontitis, so it is crucial to see the dentist right away.
Bleeding Gums or Pus Pockets
As gum disease causes irritation, it only makes sense that bleeding gums are a very common sign. If your gums bleed while brushing or flossing, or eating crunchy foods, tell your dentist as soon as possible.
Progressing gum disease leads to small pockets of pus between the teeth and the gums. These small spots feel swollen to the touch, and can be either hard or soft. You might pop one of these pockets while eating, and notice a sudden, very bad taste in your mouth. As gum disease continues to worsen, the small pockets tend to give way to large, tremendously painful abscesses.
Changes in the Way Your Teeth Fit Together
Untreated gum disease eventually causes the gums to loosen from the teeth. As bacteria work their way into the gaps, and down into the bones and tissues that support the teeth, they cause changes to the bite. If your teeth seem to close oddly, or you have a partial denture that sits differently in your mouth, your gum disease is likely worsening.
Loose or Shifting Teeth
In late-stage gum disease, the teeth actually begin to loosen and shift within the mouth. This is a serious sign that you are at risk for imminent tooth loss. You must see your dentist right away to save your teeth.
Gum disease affects the vast majority of adults, and it is highly reversible in its earliest stages. Over time, however, gum disease that is left untreated will continue to progress, affecting your overall health and putting you at serious risk for losing your teeth. Even in later stages, however, there are measures your dentist can take to halt and possibly reverse the damage. No matter what signs and symptoms you are currently experiencing, now is the right time to contact your dentist.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.
The Importance of Hygiene Visits (Teeth Cleaning)
We want you to have the brightest smile and the healthiest teeth. One of the most important reasons to visit a dentist is to keep your teeth clean and identify any emergency dental problems you may be experiencing. Having your teeth professionally cleaned can identify dental problems that you may not be aware of. Plaque and tartar can form even with meticulous brushing. When tartar collects below the gumline, gum infection can result and can lead to tooth loss or gum disease.
Research also has proven a link between the advanced stages of gum disease and serious health problems. Diabetes, stroke, and heart disease are just a few of the risks. We recommend regular cleanings by our hygienist to help you keep overall good dental health. Click here to learn more and schedule an appointment for a teeth cleaning.
Preventing the Number One Cause of Lost Teeth
If gums start to bleed while brushing or flossing, or any teeth become loose, it is important to have these symptoms checked. They are often a sign of infected gums, and this disease can be controlled and reversed during the early stages with nonsurgical methods. Regular checkups also help prevent the onset of periodontal disease, as sometimes these symptoms don’t occur when there is infection.
Gum Disease Can Contribute to Heart Disease and Even Stroke
Many patients may not be aware that periodontal disease can have an effect on more than just your teeth. Medical research has revealed that there is a link between bacterial infections of the gums and the onset or worsening of strokes, cardiovascular problems, and diabetes. It is clear that gum disease can result in more serious problems than losing your teeth. As the American Dental Association has determined that 8 out of 10 adults have infections in their gums, dentists are considering this to be an epidemic health risk.
As the bacteria from the infected gums travels throughout the bloodstream, it has the potential to affect your vital organs. The American Academy of Periodontology reports, “studies found periodontal infection may contribute to the development of heart disease, increase the risk of premature, underweight births, and pose a serious threat to people whose health is already compromised due to diabetes and respiratory diseases.”
Now the Good News
We advise our patients to come into our office immediately with any of the symptoms of infected gums, as once the infection reaches an advanced stage the treatment will be surgery. In milder stages, the problem can be reversed with nonsurgical procedures and improved daily dental hygiene. With most dental insurance plans, both types of procedures are covered.
Is There a Problem with Missing Teeth?
Most teeth are lost because of gum disease and not accident or decay, as many assume. It is important to maintain a full set of teeth, as even one missing tooth can let the other teeth move or shift. This affects chewing, which lessens the amount of nutrients you absorb from your food. It may also become more difficult to chew, so softer, less nutritious foods will be consumed, which can result in an increase in weight. Speech can become slurred, resulting in embarrassment and less desire to socialize. Eventually, your face will take on a “sunken” look, making you appear much older than your age.
We offer you natural-looking implants that give you a full smile and complete functionality of teeth. We can replace one or many teeth with implants. Your confidence will be restored when your missing teeth are replaced.