Gum disease is an infection of the gums. If it is caught early, in the stage called gingivitis, it can usually be treated fairly easily. If not, it could lead to more serious oral health problems, including tooth loss, as well as other conditions that can impact your overall health. Gingivitis can occur in both adults and adolescents. Here is what you need to know about its common symptoms, prevention and care.
Signs and Symptoms of gum disease
Common early signs of gum disease like gingivitis include:
- Bleeding gums (especially when you clean your teeth)
- Swollen gums
- Painful gums
- Persistent bad breath
If your gum disease progresses, you may also notice the following symptoms:
- Receding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
What causes gum disease?
There are several potential causes of gum disease but a few particularly stand out. These are:
- Poor oral hygiene (brushing and flossing habits)
- Misaligned teeth can also be a risk factor as this can make your teeth harder to clean
Less common causes include:
- Hormonal changes
- Some prescription medications
- Poor nutrition
- Family history of gum disease
- Some systemic conditions including diabetes and leukemia
Preventing gum disease
There are three key steps you can take to reduce the chance that you will experience gum disease. These are:
- Clean your teeth properly
- Stop smoking
- Visit your dentist regularly
Clean your teeth properly
Cleaning your teeth properly means cleaning every surface of each tooth. This includes getting into the cracks between your teeth with your toothbrush, by flossing or using a dental pick. With good technique, you can brush effectively with an old-fashioned toothbrush. You may, however, find it easier to use an electric toothbrush, a WaterPik®, or similar product. These take the physical effort out of brushing and allow you to focus on positioning the head or water stream more effectively.
If you need guidance on how to clean your teeth properly or what equipment to use, Dr. Duffy or your hygienist will be happy to help you.
Quitting smoking may be a challenge but it has many kinds of benefits. In terms of your oral health, stopping smoking not only reduces your risk of gum disease but also reduces your risk of developing oral cancer. As a bonus, giving up smoking will stop your teeth from being stained by nicotine, improve your sense of smell and taste, and improve how your breath smells.
Regular appointments help!
At Peninsula Family Dentistry, we provide our patients with the highest quality care using advanced descaling technology at your cleanings. Dr. Duffy and our hygiene team are experts in helping each patient resolve or learn to manage their gum disease. Regular dental check-ups for “periodontal patients” may be more frequent than twice a year. This allows us to identify potential problems that may come up and deal with any existing ones at an early stage. In fact, we may spot a problem so early that you don’t even actively experience symptoms.
Patients managing gum disease may find it tempting to skip their dental visits. Resist the temptation as skipping may place you at risk for backtracking or could even advance your disease.
Dr. Duffy treats each patient uniquely
Dr. Duffy always welcomes your questions at or between your appointments. Our goal is for you to enjoy a healthier, more comfortable mouth and smile.
No Dental Insurance?
Peninsula Family Dentistry offers an in-house Dental Membership Plan for you and your family members. This affordable plan includes an option for periodontal patients who have their teeth cleaned three to four times a year. Check it out here .