Gum Disease – How Can You Tell If You Have It? How Do You Treat It?
Before discussing how to tell if you have gum disease, it would be good to have a fundamental understanding of what it is. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that eats away tooth structure, gum tissue and the bone supporting the teeth.
The infection starts as a clear, sticky biofilm of bacteria on the teeth and gums known as plaque. As the amount of plaque increases, it starts to form hardened bacterial deposits known as calculus. These deposits develop above and below the gum line.
The bacteria emit toxins that cause inflammation and erosion of tissue. As the infection grows, it gradually causes the gums to detach from the teeth and eats away the bone that holds the teeth in place. When the infection becomes severe, the teeth become loose and can even fall out.
Gum disease often does not cause any pain or discomfort until it is well advanced, so a knowledge of what to look for is vital if you are to catch it before it becomes a severe problem.
Here are the main things to look for. If you notice ANY of the above, you should make an immediate appointment at our office for a full examination.
- Red or swollen gums – this is a result of inflammation.
- Tender or bleeding gums (especially when you brush or floss) – this is evidence that the infection has taken hold, but it also may be a sign that you have caught it early, as the gums stop bleeding when the gum detachment has progressed far below the gum line.
- Persistent bad breath that does not go away – this isn’t just a social liability, it’s a danger signal.
- Teeth that have shifted position – this happens when bone support has been reduced.
- Teeth that have become loose – this is evidence the gum detachment and erosion of bone has become advanced.
- Gums that have receded away from the tooth crown, making the tooth appear longer – this is evidence that gum tissue has actually been lost, and could be a sign of bone loss as well.
- You detect an abscess below the gum line – this is a sign the infection has advanced.
- Painful Chewing – this is an indicator of advanced inflammation and infection.
Treatment for any stage of gum disease involves thorough removal of the built-up plaque and calculus. Dr. Padolsky is an Atlanta dentist who uses ultrasonic cleaning instruments, topical antibiotic therapy and dental lasers to make gum disease treatment efficient and minimally invasive. His use of these technologies also allows him to effectively resolve many severe cases of gum disease without the need of surgery.