Dental Blog

Know the Signs and Stages of Gum Disease

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
signs of gum disease

As one of the most prevalent dental issues in America, gum disease can be a sneaky dental health issue to watch out for at your next teeth cleaning. Gum disease develops in stages, and paying specific attention to gum disease systems can help you catch it early. Read along for what gum disease symptoms you should look for in your own teeth, and stay aware of gum disease causes you may not have known before. Your dentist at Monarch Dental can detect gum disease when you go in for a professional teeth cleaning, and catching these signs early is the best way to ensure you can treat the disease before the damage is irreversible. If you think you’re at risk, read along for warning signs and treatment options. We also offer emergency appointments for those who have identified with the symptoms below.

Defining gum disease

The more knowledgeable you are about what gum disease is, the more likely you’re able to detect and treat it before the condition worsens. While the early stages of gum disease are reversible, the later stages are not, which is why it’s especially imperative to know what to look for. Simply put, gum disease is inflammation around the gum line. The gum line is where your teeth, and most importantly, the roots of your teeth reside. Inflammation to this area of your teeth can impact the bone and connective tissue that surround and support your teeth. This is what keeps your teeth strong and in place. Once this starts to decay and deteriorate, major dental problems can occur with the structure of your teeth. Keeping your gums healthy is the best way to prevent gum disease from initiating and developing over time. Gum disease is surprisingly prevalent amongst Americans, as the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has found nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 suffering from periodontal disease.

Gum disease, like many diseases, develops as a progression of three stages – gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and can commonly occur with infrequent brushing and flossing. This stage is both preventable and reversible if treated properly with good oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, and proper teeth cleanings. Once gum disease goes beyond this stage, and into periodontitis and advanced periodontitis the implications are irreversible, leaving damage to the tooth and it’s underlying structure inevitable. Practicing good oral hygiene regularly, and visiting your Monarch dentist for routine, professional teeth cleanings are the best ways patients can prevent gum disease from impacting their smile and overall health.

Knowing the stages of gum disease

  1. Gingivitis. This is the mildest form of gum disease at its earliest stage. Because there is little to no discomfort when patients have gingivitis, it can often go undetected. However, what you can look for are signs of redness, swelling or bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. Gingivitis most commonly occurs due to inadequate oral hygiene and with proper treatment, is luckily reversible. Have your Monarch dentist give you an oral exam at your next dental checkup to check for signs of gingivitis. This may include what’s known as a “pocket reading”. With pocket readings, your dentist will use an instrument to check the level of depth between your tooth and gum line. It’s primarily the buildup of plaque on the surface and between teeth and gums that will cause gingivitis to form. Catching gingivitis early at your dental checkup is the best way to prevent it from developing into periodontitis.
  2. Periodontitis. If gingivitis goes untreated, it will advance to the next stage of gum disease – periodontitis. With the buildup of plaque along gum lines, toxins begin to accumulate and cause the gums to inflame in response to the infection. Once periodontitis has developed, the damage is permanent and the gums can no longer return to their normal, healthy state. However, treatment is imperative as the condition will only worsen over time if untreated. As mentioned before, a pocket reading can be performed and one may begin to notice visible pockets forming between the tooth and gum. This allows plaque and food to get easily trapped in the pockets, making removal difficult. At this point in gum disease patients must adhere to a stricter regimen of oral healthcare and guidelines from their dentist to prevent the disease from advancing.
  3. Advanced Periodontitis. Once the gums hit this stage of infection, they start to deteriorate and lose the ability to hold the tooth in place. This is because the supporting bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place are weakened over time. Patients may notice their teeth start to shift or loosen from their initial state because the gums can no longer hold them in place. Having your teeth in the right place can not only affect your bite, but it can also impact everything from how you eat to your ability to speak clearly. Professional periodontal therapy is needed to treat advanced periodontitis, as well as effective oral healthcare at home. At this stage, removal or extraction of the teeth may be necessary, depending on how far the disease has developed. If teeth are removed, patients can seek guidance from their Monarch dentist on what restorative options can be done.

Gum Disease Symptoms

Gum disease is often painless, so symptoms may go unnoticed among patients before their next dental checkup. Although gum disease is most prevalent amongst adults, it can also appear in children. If detected, it’s important to seek treatment immediately and utilize the best oral care regimens at home to restore gums back to a state of health. Gum disease is irreversible at the second and third stages, so it’s good practice to take preventative measures and seek guidance at your dental checkup and teeth cleaning. Look for the following symptoms, and if you think you may be developing gum disease look for a dentist near me to find a local Monarch dentist that can provide you with a professional teeth cleaning and treatment before symptoms worsen:

  • Swollen, tender, or red gums
  • Bleeding in gums when brushing or flossing teeth
  • Pocket formations at gum line
  • Persistent bad breath or taste in the mouth
  • Teeth that are overly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures
  • Pus surrounding the teeth or gums
  • A shift in your bite

If you’ve begun to notice you may have these symptoms with your gums and teeth, give your dentist a call to schedule a professional teeth cleaning. This will allow your dentist to examine the state of your gums, as well as remove any excess plaque or tartar that has built up over time. They can recommend an oral healthcare regiment that works for you and assess the state of your gum disease, or determine if the symptoms are caused by something else.

Gum Disease Causes

The cause for gum disease? Plaque, plaque, plaque! This sticky film that forms on your teeth every time you eat can do some serious damage. If plaque isn’t removed from your teeth it will build up and cause toxins to accumulate and release along your gum line. Let’s not forget plaque can cause other dental concerns like cavities and tooth decay. Plaque can typically be removed with good flossing and brushing habits. However, if it isn’t removed fairly quickly the substance can harden and calcify into tartar. Once tartar has formed it can’t be removed with simple brushing or flossing, and a dentist will have to scrape it from the tooth enamel with a special instrument during a teeth cleaning. If tartar is left behind, plaque will continue to build upon it, and thus the cycle continues. Such bacteria induce the cause for gingivitis, and if left untreated can develop into advanced periodontitis.

There are also factors you may want to consider that can contribute to the development of gingivitis such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Substance abuse

Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment

Gum disease prevention lies within good oral healthcare practices at home such as proper brushing and flossing at least twice a day. You should also schedule a routine professional teeth cleaning every six months to remove any plaque that has built up over time. During these teeth cleanings, be sure to ask your dentist to check for signs of gum disease. If your dentist notices anything unusual, they can prescribe the right treatment plan or give advice on how to properly brush and floss your teeth.

If gum disease has already begun to develop, your dentist at Monarch Dental has a variety of options to choose from. Treatment will also depend on what stage the gum disease has advanced to. For a minor level of gingivitis, your dentist may recommend a professional teeth cleaning, better care at home, or fluoride treatments to strengthen tooth enamel.

Professional Teeth Cleaning. With a professional teeth cleaning you can be sure the hygienist will perform what is called “scaling”. This removes plaque and tartar buildup that has accumulated both above and below the gum line. Root planing can also be performed to remove periodontal pockets that have formed. Seeing the dentist for routine teeth cleanings is not only proactive, but allows your dentist to treat gum disease early on.

Medications. If gum disease is overwhelming the health of your teeth, your dentist may advise the use of some medication to treat the infection. Medication can be a method your dentist may use before performing surgery if the gum disease has progressed that far. Medications can range from mouthwashes, to gels or antibiotics. The type of medication prescribed should always be at the recommendation of your dentist and will depend on the stage of gum disease.

Surgery. One of the last options used at more advanced periodontitis is surgery. The type of surgery will be specific to the patient and their needs. This can include flap surgery, by which the surgeon will remove tartar deposits that have developed in pockets and use gum tissue to close the pockets. Because pockets are so difficult to clean, the surgery can assist from further plaque buildup in this region. Bone or grafting surgery is usually performed in addition to flap surgery. This surgery is typically used to form or regrow tissue or bone that has been lost to gum disease, or cover any exposed tooth roots. All types of treatment should always be advised by a dental professional as they are dependent on the stage of development.

Dentist Near Me

Your Monarch dentist can provide you with plenty of knowledge and practice if you think you may be experiencing symptoms of gum disease. At your next dental checkup, your dentist will perform a teeth cleaning and inspect for any signs of gum disease. If you are experiencing pain or notice your symptoms have advanced to a more aggressive form of gum disease, emergency dental services are also available for those last minute appointments. You can reach us at 1-844-800-7645 or online to schedule an appointment for various dental services. Don’t give gum disease a fighting chance! Taking steps towards prevention is the surest way to leave gum disease behind.