Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease that can be treated with improved oral hygiene and a simple professional clean. Periodontitis is a more destructive version affecting both gum tissue and surrounding support structures. It needs more complex intervention and often treatment with a periodontist.
What are the symptoms?
Gum disease is generally painless and will often only first be noticed by your general dentist. There are some symptoms that may indicate that you have a problem, but they are not always present. It is therefore important to keep an eye on the following symptoms:
- Bleeding gums, especially when brushing your teeth or eating
- Any swelling, redness, or tenderness in the gums
- Gums that recede or move away from the tooth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
- Pain when chewing
- Loose teeth
- Visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums
- Tooth migration or movement
What should I do about it?
If left untreated, gum disease can become a serious problem and result in tooth loss or increased risk of other health problems such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes. Once it is past the earliest stages, professional treatment from your dentist or hygienist is the only way to treat it. If they feel they cannot do this, it is likely you will be referred to a periodontist. Therefore, the sooner you seek treatment once you notice any of these symptoms, the better your chances are of saving your teeth and health.
Who can get gum disease?
Anyone at any age can be affected, especially if you have not been making oral hygiene a priority. However, it is most common in people over the age of 30. There are some groups in the population who are at increased risk including diabetics, pregnant women, anyone with a poor diet, and those taking illicit drugs. Often, there is a familial relationship as well.
What can I do to prevent gum disease?
Brush and floss or use an interproximal brush on your teeth at least twice a day to reduce the build-up of plaque, which is the usual cause of gum disease. Just as importantly, have regular check-ups so that we can help you monitor your oral health.