Gum disease is very common in the United States, with almost 50 percent of adults older than 30 having some form of it. Gum disease can range in severity from gingivitis, a mild form, to the more serious condition known as periodontitis. If caught early enough, gum disease can be reversed before it develops into periodontitis.
Early Signs of Gum Disease
Gingivitis can be painless, but there are still several symptoms you should look out for. Healthy gums should be pink and firm, so if your gums are red and swollen or they bleed when you brush your teeth, you may have gingivitis. Other signs of early gum disease include persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth, heightened tooth sensitivity, gums that appear to be receding, and significant tartar buildup.
Just like most diseases, treating gum disease early is crucial in preventing the development of more serious health problems like advanced periodontitis, which can result in tooth loss. The best way to reverse early gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene. You should thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss once per day. Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three months, as frayed bristles do not clean plaque and bacteria as effectively.
Smoking is a significant risk factor for developing gum disease and it hinders the healing process, so if you are a smoker, quitting could help reverse your gingivitis.
What If I Already Have Periodontitis?
Gum disease cannot be reversed once it has advanced beyond gingivitis to periodontitis, but there are treatment options that can prevent it from getting worse. One option is a procedure called periodontal scaling, where we remove infection-causing plaque and tartar below the gum line. Along with scaling, we perform root planing, which smooths the surface of your tooth root, allowing easier healing and reattachment of the gum tissue. Other surgeries may be necessary if the gum disease has begun to infect your jawbone or if you have already lost teeth.
If you have signs of early gum disease or are seeking treatment for periodontitis, please call our office to schedule an appointment.