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Signs of Gum Disease

Gingivitis, the medical term for gum disease, affects about 65 million Americans. Unfortunately, the early stages can fly under your radar with no symptoms until it reaches the more advanced version — periodontitis.

Gingivitis starts as a collection of microscopic bacteria that feed on food particles in your mouth. Soon, it becomes a sticky, yet invisible, a mixture called plaque that coats your teeth and gums. If you let it sit there, plaque hardens and turns into tartar, which irritates your gums and opens the door to infection, or gum disease.

At Brite Dental Spa in New York, New York, our team sees many cases of gum disease at all stages, and we often catch it before our patients even know they have it. That’s why regular checkups are so important because we can discover problems like gum disease early and reverse them with very simple treatments. If you wait until gingivitis evolves into periodontitis, treatment is much more involved, and some damage may be irreversible.

To keep an eye out for signs of gum disease in between checkups, use your senses.

What gum disease looks like

Take a good look at your gums, and pay close attention to the color. Healthy gums typically range from light pink to coral. White gums or bright red gums are cause for concern.

Now take a look at the edges of your gums where they meet your teeth. You should see smooth, even edges that are uniform from tooth to tooth. Infected gums recede and pull back from your teeth, often showing the root. Some people describe this as “longer teeth,” because you see more surface area once the gums recede. 

Gingivitis can irritate your gums to the point of bleeding, so if you see a little blood mixed with toothpaste when you spit, it may be a sign of infected gums.

What gum disease smells like

Yes, gum disease smells. In fact, if you have chronic bad breath even though you brush your teeth regularly, it might be gum disease. When the bacteria mingle with the proteins and peptides in your mouth, they develop sulfur compounds that stink. 

What gum disease feels like

Pain is one of the telltale signs of gums disease, but it doesn’t have to be acute or severe. Sometimes gingivitis causes sensitivity when you chew or eat something hot or cold. Even the air can cause you pain if the root is exposed.

Also, as your infected gums shrink away, your teeth lose their snug mooring and begin to shift and feel wiggly or downright loose. 

What gum disease tastes like

Infected, bleeding gums are prone to oozing fluids into your mouth when you brush or eat. Naturally, if the pus or blood touches your tongue, you’re in for a foul taste in your mouth. Pockets of infection left untreated can develop into abscesses that can become quite painful and taste awful.

How to treat gum disease

The aim of gum disease treatment is to stop the infection. The treatment that’s best for you depends entirely on how bad it is. 

Very mild cases of gingivitis can resolve on their own if you pay more attention to your oral hygiene and undergo a good professional cleaning

Moderate gum disease may also require a professional cleaning — but one that’s more involved than the basic cleaning you get during a checkup. Called scaling and planing, this treatment scrapes the plaque and hardened tartar off your teeth with special tools. 

Severe periodontitis treatment depends on the extent of the damage. If your gums are extremely receded, you may need a soft tissue graft to replace what’s lost. If gum disease has infected your teeth as well, you may need a root canal to clean out the decay inside the tooth, or you may need to have it extracted. 

If you notice any signs of gum disease, or if it’s been a while since you’ve seen a dentist, contact us at Brite Dental Spa to arrange an appointment with one of our gum disease specialists, and get back on track with your oral health.

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