Gum Disease

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
May 7, 2019

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Updated Nov. 2021

You hear about gum disease a lot. Commercials on TV talk about it, your dentist probably mentioned it at some point during your past checkups, and you might know someone who has this condition. 

But what is gum disease, exactly? What are the symptoms of this oral health problem, and are there any treatments available to tackle it? The answers to all of these questions can be found below.

A Few Things You Should Know About Gum Disease

Gum disease starts as gingivitis. So, if you’re experiencing the symptoms of gingivitis (e.g. red, swollen, bleeding gums), it’s best to tackle the problem with the help of your dentist so it won’t advance to gum disease. 

Gum disease can impact the structures that support your teeth. As the condition worsens, you may notice that your gums start to separate from the teeth, and this puts you at risk of losing your pearly whites. Yikes!   

Another awful effect of gum disease: bad breath. If you’re noticing that you can’t get rid of your bad breath no matter what you do, gum disease might be the culprit. 

But what’s also scary is that, in addition to affecting your mouth, gum disease might even have an impact on other aspects of your health. This is a condition that’s associated with damaging inflammation, and there might be a link between gum disease and conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, if you’re pregnant, gum disease might increase the risk of having a baby prematurely or having a baby with a low birth weight. 

For all of these reasons, keeping track of the health of your gums, and getting advice from a dentist on how to keep your whole mouth healthy, is ultra-important.

The Usual Symptoms of Gum Disease

Now that you know a bit more about gum disease and its effects on oral health, you might be wondering what symptoms would alert you that something is wrong. Well, the first thing you should keep in mind is that, sometimes, there might not be symptoms that make it easy to spot this problem. 

As mentioned above, the earliest stage of gum disease is the development of gingivitis. This is when the gums become inflamed, so you might notice that they’re tender and bleed easily. Caused by bacteria in plaque, this is a problem that can be reversed more easily than gum disease. Your dentist may give you a professional cleaning, and you can work on keeping your teeth and gums as clean as possible by brushing and flossing daily at home. 

If you notice the following symptoms, it’s best to talk to your dentist to figure out what’s wrong, as you might have gum disease:

  • Your gums are swollen, sensitive, and red.
  • There is bleeding from the gums when you brush or floss.
  • Your gums are starting to recede or you’re noticing deep pockets between the teeth and gums. 
  • You have bad breath that won’t go away, or there is a bad taste in your mouth. 
  • Your teeth are sensitive, or you’re experiencing pain when you chew. 
  • Your teeth are shifting or loose.

The Treatment Options to Fight Gum Disease

Seeing your dentist for checkups can help you find out about problems like gum disease before they progress, especially if you aren’t experiencing symptoms. 

If you’re diagnosed with gum disease, your dentist might recommend the following treatments to help prevent further damage and tooth loss:

  • A professional cleaning can help remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and below the gumline, so this might be the first step that your dentist recommends.
  • For a deeper cleaning of the teeth and gums, you might need to undergo what’s known as scaling and root planing. This will clean the roots and smooth them to help the gums heal and reattach to the teeth.
  • To work on removing bacteria and inflammation, your dentist might prescribe oral or topical antibiotics. For example, an antibiotic gel might be placed under the gums to provide targeted treatment. 
  • Depending on the severity of the gum disease, and the damage that’s been done, surgery might be necessary in some cases. Examples include bone grafts, tissue grafts, guided tissue regeneration, and flap surgery.    

Work with Your Dentist to Keep Your Gums in Tip-Top Shape!

Ultimately, seeing your dentist on a consistent basis is important if you want to catch the earliest signs of gum problems. There’s only so much that you can do at home to keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy, so it’s wise to visit the dentist for professional cleanings, checkups, and X-rays. And with the right dental insurance, you’ll have the support you need to pay for high-quality care if you’re ever diagnosed with gum disease.


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