Gum Disease 101: Understanding the Silent Threat

Your gums are a vital part of the oral biome of your mouth. Without them protecting the roots of your teeth, you would experience sensitivity and tooth decay at a much faster rate. That’s why caring for your gums and preventing gum disease is vitally important. Unfortunately for millions of adults, some stage of gum disease is a reality, with more than 30 percent of adults having some form, whether it be early-onset (gingivitis) or more advanced gum disease (periodontitis).

So, how do you know if you have gum disease, and how do you treat it if you do? Here are some answers to common questions about your gums.

What Causes Gum Disease?

While some people may be genetically prone to gum disease, usually it is caused by poor hygiene habits or age. Gum disease is categorized as an inflammation of the gums with bacteria. These dangerous bacteria can cause receding gums, tooth loss and bone loss, and can even enter the bloodstream and worsen many conditions, from heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease.

How Do You Treat It?

Gum disease can be treated in many ways, but the best way to treat gingivitis and early-onset gum disease is by brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing at least once a day. This can help prevent it from worsening and help kill any bacteria at the gum line. Another surefire way to help treat it is regular dental cleanings that clean the plaque and buildup at the gum line, keeping the bacteria from entering your gum tissue.

Root Scaling and Planing

One procedure for treating gum disease that you may have heard of is root scaling and planing. This is done by first deep cleaning the teeth at the gum line. Next, Dr. Morgan will clean under your gum line, smoothing out the roots of the teeth and making it difficult for plaque and bacteria to adhere to your teeth and cause gum infection. 

The gums are numbed prior to this procedure, so the procedure is a little more comfortable, and Dr. Morgan is happy to provide noise-canceling headphones to help you zone out and relax during your procedure.

How Do You Prevent Gum Disease?

The best way to treat gum disease is to never get it at all. This means preventative care as we mentioned above: brushing twice a day for at least two minutes at a time, flossing at least once a day, and visiting Dr. Morgan at least twice a year for a cleaning and exam. 

What Do I Do If I Have Advanced Gum Disease?

Advanced gum disease is likely not going to simply go away with regular brushing, so treatment for this condition may be required. This may include antibiotics, prescription toothpaste and mouthwash, and gum regeneration with a laser. In some cases, gum grafting may be required. 

Typically laser regeneration helps to heal the gums and grow back gum tissue, reducing the “pockets” that form between your teeth and your gums as your gum disease becomes more advanced.

How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?

While you need a proper diagnosis from Dr. Morgan, there are several signs and symptoms to look out for that can help alert you to the potential of gum disease lurking in your mouth:

  • Gums that are red or that bleed when you brush
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially when eating hot or cold foods
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Pain when chewing
  • Shifting teeth or changes in how your teeth fit together

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact Dr. Morgan’s office to schedule an appointment. That being said, in some cases, you may exhibit no symptoms, or at least exhibit no symptoms that would be obvious to someone who is not a trained dental professional. This is why it is so important to attend regular cleanings and exams, so that Dr. Morgan can keep an eye on your gum health and provide treatment when necessary.

To schedule a cleaning or consultation with Dr. Morgan, please contact the office today.