Notice some hint of red mixed with your saliva whenever you spit while cleaning your teeth? You might want to consider scheduling an appointment with your dentist because those blood stains from your mouth might be an indication that you have a problem with your gums.
When should I worry about gum disease?
The build-up of plaque on the teeth harbours harmful bacteria, which when left unchecked can cause gum problems due to the toxins they release. Typically, gum disease has two stages based on the severity.
- Gingivitis - Gum disease starts off as gingivitis, which affects nearly 80% of all adults in the world. Gingivitis is the medical term for gum inflammation, which also makes your gums darker and tender. The presence of bleeding gums and teeth may indicate gingivitis as well.
- Periodontitis - If gingivitis is left untreated, the gum line can get penetrated by the infection which can also reach into the bone (hard structures that support the teeth) and progress into periodontitis, a much more severe and serious gum condition. Severe periodontitis can lead to deterioration of the gum line and result in tooth loss.
What are the symptoms I need to look out for?
Both levels of gum disease can have irreversible damage to your oral health and according to Dentaleh, which is one of the best dental portals in Singapore, both diseases have been shown to raise the chances of developing severe chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, osteoporosis, and cancer. This is why gum disease must be detected and diagnosed early on, x-rays are used to determine the severity of the gum infection and to check if they reached the roots. Gum disease treatment should be started as soon as you notice some of the symptoms. Here are symptoms that you can look out for:
Gum disease symptoms
- Swollen, tender gums that are darker than usual.
- Receding gums and elongate teeth.
- Loose or unstable teeth.
- Persistent bad breath even after oral cleansing.
- Overly sensitive teeth
1. Swollen, tender gums that are darker than usual.
These are the first visible indicators of a gum condition. In addition, the gums may also feel painful and may bleed whenever you brush your teeth. The gum line also turns dark red in color.
2. Receding gums and elongate teeth.
With gum disease, the supporting structure underneath the gums and teeth start to deteriorate. This results in the shrinking of the gums and exposing more of the tooth. Receding gums creates pockets between the tooth where bacteria settle and cause irritation.
3. Loose or unstable teeth.
Gum disease can destroy the integrity of the bones that hold your teeth together. This results in loose teeth that become wiggly and unstable. Over time, it can affect how your teeth fit together, especially when you bite. This can change your smile and can affect your confidence.
4. Persistent bad breath even after oral cleansing.
The mouth is a natural place for bacteria to thrive due to the amount of food debris found on the teeth. Your teeth and gums can get irritated due to the toxins released by these bacteria, which results in bad breath. This can be a cause for concern that you may have periodontitis since early-stage gum disease on its own does not really affect your breath much.
5. Overly sensitive teeth
If your teeth suddenly feel much more sensitive, such as when eating ice cream, then this might be a sign of gum disease. This symptom often accompanies receding gums, since this often exposes the dentin, a highly sensitive part of your teeth.
What are my choices for treatment?
Gum disease treatment
- Professional scaling and root planing
- Prescription drugs
- Surgical treatments
1. Noninvasive Treatments
Professional scaling and root planing
When it comes to gum disease, the first order of treatment is a deep and thorough professional dental cleaning. This cleaning procedure not only targets the exposed parts of your teeth but also goes deep under the gums. Compared to traditional teeth cleaning, the dentist also uses some special instruments in deep cleaning since it is a much more delicate process. These methods aim to get rid of plaque and hardened deposits of tartar.
Gum disease currently has no pill or cream that can remedy it. However, your dentist may still prescribe you medicine that can assist and speed up gum disease treatment. Some of the medicine often used for gum disease include antiseptic chips, antibacterial gels, oral antibiotics, and enzyme suppressants. Here is the best antibiotic for an infected tooth.
2. Surgical Treatments
If the non-invasive methods did not give good results for your gum disease, you can always get surgery as the next option. There are 2 common options for patients, namely gum graft surgery and flap surgery. During a gum graft, the dentist uses tissue from your mouth to cover any exposed roots. Flap surgery, on the other hand, involves the slicing of a ‘flap’ on your gums so that the dentist can remove any tartar that forms deep in your teeth.
Pro Advice: Prevent plaque and tartar with these tips
A person must have good dental hygiene to lessen the chances of having to deal with periodontal disease in the future. Firstly, regular toothbrushing is extremely important to avoid the building up of plaque, because if it is left alone it can serve as a home for harmful germs that may lead to the breaking down of your teeth and gums.
When you are choosing a toothpaste, choose one that has fluoride, since it can help eradicate the bacteria. Your toothpaste usually contains some common abrasive agents such as calcium carbonates or silicates, which does the job in scraping away the plaque buildup off your teeth. Another important component to look for in toothpaste is SLS or sodium lauryl sulfate which causes toothpaste to foam. For people with hypersensitive teeth, some types of toothpaste can give relief to the discomfort felt when eating cold food and beverages. Make sure to use an antibacterial mouthwash after brushing to prevent bacteria buildup which can lead to gum disease. You can ask your dentist for recommendations on which brands are effective and specially formulated to control bacteria in the mouth.
Also, gum disease has a low chance of being contagious. However, research shows that the harmful bacteria in the gums can be spread through saliva. If you know someone who is experiencing gingivitis and periodontitis, you should avoid contact with their dental equipment or eating utensils to protect your oral health.
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