Gum disease is one of the most common oral health issues in America. It has been estimated by the CDC that about half of all American adults suffer from some form of gum disease. Proper at-home care and intervention from a dentist are critical for preventing gum disease from progressing and keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
For most people, the first sign of gum disease is bleeding gums. This can be a sign that you have gingivitis – the initial, mild form of gum disease, in which your gums are infected with bacteria. You shouldn’t worry about this unduly, but you should make an appointment with your dentist, because left untreated gingivitis can become more serious.
Specifically, if you leave gum disease untreated, it can become periodontitis. In this stage of the disease, the infection can cause permanent damage to the structures of the teeth and gums. Both gingivitis and periodontitis have been shown to raise your risk of more serious diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, pneumonia, and cancer.
Because of this, early detection of gum disease is key to effective treatment. You can help your dentist with this by looking out for the main symptoms of gum disease:
- Bad breath, caused by the bacterial infections
- Receding gums, as your gums pull away from the site of infection
- It hurts when you floss
- It hurts when you brush
- Your gums bleed when you brush or floss
- You notice your gums are very red
- You notice your gums are puffy and sensitive
- Sensitive teeth, or teeth that feel loose
Treatment for gum disease is not painful or uncomfortable, at least for mild forms of the disease. Your dentist will focus on controlling the infection by cleaning your teeth, and maybe prescribing antibiotic medication. More serious cases of the disease can require surgery, but if you catch the disease quickly this is unlikely to be necessary.
Can gum disease heal on its own?
In practice, it’s very difficult to manage gum disease on your own. It’s nearly impossible to remove all the bacteria with brushing, flossing, and mouthwash alone. That’s why it is important to visit your dentist regularly, to prevent gum disease and its progression.
Is gum disease reversible?
This depends! If your gums are red, swollen, and bleed easily, you likely have gingivitis, and at this stage the problem can usually be eliminated by a professional cleaning and better dental hygiene. Gum disease which has progressed is not reversible, so it’s important to treat the symptoms early.
How much does gum disease treatment cost?
In most cases, your dentist will treat you for gum disease during the course of your normal check-ups. If you have a more serious case of the disease, your dentist will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment, and what this will cost.
Worried about gum disease?
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