February is Gum Disease Awareness Month, so it’s time to find out just how much you know about the complex dental condition. At Galleria of Smiles, we love to educate our patients so you’re better prepared to tackle any potential dental problems, while keeping your smile bright and healthy.
What Is Gum Disease?
What exactly is gum disease? That’s a very good question! Especially given that gum disease affects your entire mouth, not just your gums.
Gum disease, also known as periodontitis or periodontal disease, starts with the growth of bacteria in your mouth. If not treated, gum disease could eventually lead to tooth loss because of the destruction of surrounding tissues.
Signs Of Gum Disease
If you’re concerned you could have gum disease, keep an eye out for any of the signs and symptoms listed below:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, sensitive gums
- Pockets between your gums and your teeth
- Chronic bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- Loose teeth
- A change in your bite or the way your teeth fit together
- A change in the way your partial dentures fit
Gum Disease Risk Factors
Certain factors put you at a higher risk of developing gum disease. Some of those risk factors include:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Family history of gum disease
- Crooked, crowded teeth that are harder to clean
- Certain medications
The Stages Of Periodontal Disease
Stage One: Gingivitis
Part of what makes gingivitis so dangerous is that it’s easy to miss. If you have bad breath and your gums bleed when you floss your teeth, you could have gingivitis. When you visit our office for a checkup, we can check to see if you have gingivitis and if so, how much it has progressed.
The good news is that gingivitis is highly treatable. The most effective way to treat gingivitis is with consistent, good oral hygiene. That means brushing, flossing, and rinsing daily, as well as maintaining regular dental checkups.
If necessary, we can give your teeth a thorough, deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup and get you on the right track to treating your gingivitis.
Stage Two: Early Periodontitis
If your gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to early periodontal disease. One hallmark symptom of early periodontitis is swollen, red, and tender gums, especially near your teeth. You will likely also notice that your gums will bleed easily when you brush and floss and your gumline might start to recede.
Treatments at this stage include deep cleanings and a treatment called scaling and root planing. Follow-up dental visits may be necessary.
Stage Three: Moderate Periodontitis
If you continue to ignore the signs and symptoms of gum disease, it can progress into stage three, moderate periodontitis. At this stage, moderate levels of bone loss are possible. You will also experience bleeding, pus, and pain around your teeth, as well as gum recession. As your gums pull away from your teeth, your teeth may become loose.
At this stage, the infections in your mouth can get into your bloodstream and cause inflammation throughout the rest of your body.
At this stage, a special treatment known as the LANAP is necessary. This procedure removes diseased tissue and cleans the area while helping to prevent new bacteria from getting into the area.
Stage Four: Advanced Periodontitis
By the time advanced periodontitis has taken over, your gums are severely infected and possible even oozing pus. Pockets between the gums and teeth can be over a quarter of an inch deep.
At this stage, you’ll likely experience severe pain while chewing, bad breath, and a very bad taste in your mouth. You may also lose teeth which can cause your remaining teeth to shift and become loose.
Advanced periodontitis can also be linked to additional serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
If you have advanced periodontal disease, urgent care is needed. We will likely start by cleaning your teeth and using the LANAP system to clear out bacteria and inflammation. If necessary, we will prescribe an antibiotic to get the infection under control.
Schedule A Dental Cleaning Today
If you haven’t already, schedule a professional dental cleaning at Galleria of Smiles to prevent and treat gum disease and keep your smile healthy. Call our Sand Springs, OK dental office today at 918-245-5976. You can also request an appointment online and we will get back to you as soon as possible.