One of the consequences of not maintaining good oral care habits like daily brushing is that gum disease can develop. The mild variety is called gingivitis, and it is fairly easily treated. If it is not addressed while still in this early stage, the disease can travel below the gum line and into the bone in a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Both gingivitis and periodontitis have been shown to raise your risk of other diseases such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer, so it’s best to detect and treat it as early as possible.
- Red, swollen gums: inflammation of the gums is one of the earliest and clearest signs that there is something wrong with the gums. They may also feel tender or bleed easily when flossing or brushing.
- Bad breath: bacteria in the mouth release acids that not only attack the gums and teeth, but also have a foul smell, causing your breath to have an odor
- Receding gums: if your teeth look like they’ve gotten longer, it could be that your gums are shrinking.
- Sensitive teeth: when the gums start to recede, the sensitive part of the teeth, called the dentin, becomes exposed and can cause pain in reaction to hot or cold temperatures
- Wiggly or shifting teeth: if periodontitis is the issue, it can start to attack the bone holding the teeth in place, changing their position and possibly even your bite
The type of treatment selected to treat gum disease depends on how advanced the disease is.
- Deep cleaning: used when gum disease is in its early stages. Unlike a regular cleaning, a deep cleaning goes under the gum line to clean out plaque and bacteria.
- Medication: while medication does not cure gum disease, it can help to control the infection
- Gum graft surgery: if a considerable amount of gum tissue has been lost, it can be taken from another part of the mouth (such as the palate) or from a donor and be placed over any exposed tooth roots
- Flap surgery: the gums will be lifted so that the dentist can clean away tartar deep underneath the gum line, then stitched back in place so that it is tight again around the tooth to prevent plaque and bacteria from collecting again