What Are the Top 4 Signs of Early Gum Disease?
Gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss.
Your Cerritos dentist wants to help you avoid experiencing tooth loss, loose teeth, and gum infections. To that end, we want to arm you with as much information about periodontal disease as possible, including how to tell if you’re in the early stages of the disease.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is also known as periodontal disease because it is a condition of the periodontium.
The periodontium is a connective tissue that includes four components:
- Gum tissue (gingiva)
- Alveolar bone (the part of the jawbone that houses the roots of your teeth)
- Periodontal ligament (a ligament that connects the teeth to the alveolar bone)
- Cementum (hard connective tissue covering the roots of the teeth)
Gum disease occurs when bacteria irritate or cause an infection in these tissues. Inflammation and infection damage the structures, and therefore, the integrity of the teeth. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to loose teeth and eventual tooth loss.
What Are Periodontal Pockets?
Periodontal pockets – or gum pockets – are spaces between the teeth and the gums. Your teeth fit snugly in their sockets in the alveolar bone.
When the shallow (two to three millimeter) pockets fill with bacteria, the tissues of the periodontium are irritated. If the plaque and bacteria aren’t removed (through proper brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental cleanings), tissue erosion occurs.
The result is deeper pockets (which are even harder to clean) and gingival recession. As the soft tissues recede, eventually so too will the hard tissue, the alveolar bone. Since the teeth have less bone and gingiva supporting them, they become loose.
What Are the Early Signs of Gum Disease? 4 Signs to Watch For
We don’t want you to lose your teeth or deal with a painful gum infection – and we know you don’t want that either. A great way to prevent long-term dental health issues is to know the warning signs of something like periodontal disease.
Watch for these signs of gum disease. If you recognize them, contact your Cerritos dentist right away.
1. Bleeding When You Brush
People with severe periodontal disease can experience random bleeding episodes. Just touching their gum tissue can cause bleeding.
While you won’t experience this type of bleeding in the early stages of periodontal disease, you can experience some bleeding.
Bleeding while you brush, floss, or eat is not normal. It may seem like it if you’ve been dealing with this for a long time or have friends and family members who experience the same thing. However, your gums should never bleed because you brush and floss.
Typically, what this means is that you’re not cleaning as often or as thoroughly as you need to. Within a matter of weeks, you can totally stop the bleeding if you use proper brushing and flossing techniques, use an electric toothbrush, brush at least twice a day, and floss once each day.
2. Red, Puffy Gums
Bacteria irritates the gums. The irritation causes an inflammatory response, which includes swelling and redness.
It’s similar to getting a sliver in your hand. Your body’s immune system reacts to this foreign body with inflammation, the symptoms of which are swelling, redness, and sometimes heat.
When you remove the sliver, you allow your body the chance to heal the wound. Within a few days, the swelling and redness start going down, and a few days after that, you’re back to normal.
Plaque and tartar (calcified plaque) are like that sliver, except they’re in every single gum pocket, not just a single finger. Therefore, your gums overall will look puffy and red.
Getting a professional dental cleaning can remove the plaque and tartar, allowing your gum tissue the chance to heal. The same is true of daily brushing and flossing.
If you experience some bleeding when you brush and floss, you’ll be happy to know that within a week or so of brushing and flossing regularly/properly, the bleeding will stop. If it doesn’t, talk to your Cerritos dentist as you may:
- Have a foreign object lodged in your gums
- Have a more serious case of gum disease
- Aren’t cleaning as thoroughly as is necessary
3. Bad Breath
It isn’t uncommon to have bad breath first thing in the morning or after eating certain foods. But persistent bad breath is a sign of a serious health condition. It can be a sign of a gastrointestinal issue, an infection (yeast, bacterial, or viral), or periodontal disease.
Gum disease is caused by plaque, which is full of bacteria. The bacteria release acids and other toxins that not only irritate the gums but produce a foul odor.
Gum and mints won’t mask the odor well. It won’t go away unless the plaque is removed, which is why daily homecare and twice-yearly professional cleanings are needed.
4. Sore Gums
Think back to the example of the sliver. Not only does your finger get red and swollen – but it also hurts. The same goes for your gums. Inflammation causes pain. You might feel like your whole mouth hurts or that you have a toothache. It could be a tooth issue, or it could be gum disease.
What Is Periodontal Treatment in Cerritos?
Once you’ve developed periodontal disease, the disease needs to be treated to avoid progression. If your dentist catches the disease early – when it’s classified as gingivitis or stage 1 gum disease – they can reverse the disease.
However, if they catch the disease beyond that point, it cannot be reversed. Your dentist can arrest it, though, with periodontal treatment in Cerritos.
Periodontal treatment includes a variety of services and treatments including:
- Deep cleanings (scaling and root planing)
- Gum surgery
- Antibiotic therapy (oral medications, as well as topical gum medicine)
If you’re diagnosed with periodontal disease, your Cerritos dentist will create a custom treatment plan depending on your needs.
Once you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease and have received periodontal treatment in Cerritos, you will likely need to visit your dental hygienist more than twice a year. Periodontal maintenance cleanings happen three to four times per year and are necessary to make sure your disease stays arrested.
Regular Dental Cleanings Can Reduce Your Risk of Gum Disease
While your Cerritos dentist can treat periodontal disease and restore your gum health, the best thing that you can do is to take steps to avoid developing this disease at all.
And it is possible!
Regular home care – brushing and flossing daily – is a must. In addition to that, visiting your dentist twice a year can prevent the disease, too.
Allowing your hygienist to clean the plaque and tartar that have built up under the gum line can make home care so much easier. Plus, if you do have the early signs of gum disease, your Cerritos dentist can immediately provide treatment that can reduce the risk of disease progression.
Think you might have gum disease? Contact us today to schedule a comprehensive periodontal examination. If you do have gum disease, we’ll create a treatment plan to get you back to good oral health!