Did you know a healthy smile relies on more than just your teeth? Your gums are equally important. The biggest threat to their health involves a preventable infection called periodontal (gum) disease. Although you can easily avoid it with the proper oral hygiene habits and regular care from your dentist in Redmond, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates at least 50% of adults have a form of it. The early stages may seem subtle, but over time the complications become more severe. Eventually, your smile may not be the only thing at risk. It can impact your general health as well.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease develops from bacteria found in plaque and tartar accumulations left behind from brushing and flossing. It causes your gums to become red, swollen, and bleed. Over time, pockets form between the tissue and your teeth, trapping additional bacteria. If it is not treated quickly, it destroys the supporting structures of your teeth. This can lead to tooth loss. The bacteria can also enter your bloodstream, leading to health complications, like heart disease and respiratory infections.
The complications do not occur at once. It is a gradual process with each stage producing different symptoms.
What are the Stages of Gum Disease?
There are 3 stages of the infection:
The earliest stage causes your gums to appear red, swollen, and bleed. The tissue becomes irritated due to buildup along the gum line. At this point, it can be treated with a professional cleaning and changes to your oral hygiene habits without causing any long-term damage.
As the pockets become larger, the bacteria cause the supporting bones and fibers of your teeth to become irreversibly damaged. It is common to develop chronic bad breath, tooth sensitivity, and your teeth may even become loose. To stop the infection, a more aggressive treatment plan is needed, and frequent periodontal maintenance appointments are required.
The final stage of the infection occurs when the supporting structures and fibers are destroyed causing your teeth to shift out of alignment. They may eventually fall out. You may notice changes to your bite and pus-filled pockets forming on the gum tissue. Often, you will need to have the compromised teeth removed and replaced with a dental prosthetic.
Do I Have Gum Disease?
Depending on the severity of the infection, there are several signs of the disease:
- Red, swollen, bleeding, or tender gums.
- Gum recession.
- Chronic bad breath.
- Pus from between your teeth and gums.
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Changes to your bite.
- Dental pain.
Protect Your Gum Health
You can prevent gum disease by maintaining your oral hygiene habits at home and visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. Do not let gum disease damage your smile.
About Dr. Steve Schwam
Dr. Steve Schwam provides advanced dental services to treat your individual oral health needs, including periodontal therapy. He has the solutions you need to rehabilitate the health and function of your smile. Contact our office today to schedule your consultation.