Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, affects millions of Americans.  Studies have linked it with serious health conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.  No one should ignore gum disease.  The problem is that it can be a “silent disease”, meaning it does not hurt.

People with gum disease often have no idea that anything is wrong until they see a dentist.  The diagnosis of gum disease requires a dental evaluation, gum measurements, and close-up x-rays of the teeth.  This blog will describe some of the signs of gum disease, but don’t let it lull you into a false sense of security if you do not see any of these in your own mouth.  Only an in-person visit with your dentist can confirm the presence of absence of gum disease.

Inflamed Gums (Gingivitis)

In its earliest stages, gum disease consists of inflamed gums.  Inflammation causes redness, swelling, tenderness and a tendency to bleed easily.  Gingivitis makes the gum tissue look bright red or purple in color, swollen or puffy in size, and shiny in texture.  The gums may bleed very easily when you brush or floss.  Gums that bleed spontaneously or when you eat have severe inflammation!

This inflammation is the body’s natural response to plaque buildup.  Plaque contains bacteria and bacterial toxins.  The toxins irritate the tissue and cause the inflammatory response of increased blood flow.

The first step in treating gum disease is always cleaning the teeth and making sure they are free from plaque and tartar buildup.

Black Triangles

Black triangles is a term we use to describe the small opening that can develop between the gums and the contact where two teeth contact each other.  The gums should extend up to a point, completely filling in the space between two teeth.  As plaque and tartar buildup accumulates between teeth, the gums pull away and create a black triangle.

New Areas of Food Impaction

If you notice a new area between teeth that is collecting food during meals, you may have lost some gum attachment in that area.  The change is what is noteworthy.  If you never noticed the problem before, and all of a sudden, you get good caught with every meal, something is changing with your gums.  And that change is not a good thing.  It doesn’t always indicate gum disease.  Sometimes food impaction occurs as a result of a large cavity or a broken filling.  The food impaction itself can lead to gum disease in even the healthiest mouth, so it is important to have your dentist evaluate it as soon as possible.

New Gaps between the Teeth

Are you developing small spaces between your teeth?  Does it seem like your teeth are “spreading out”?  This is often a sign of gum disease.  As the periodontal disease destroys the bone around the teeth, they begin to shift outward, causing small gaps to appear.

Receding Gums

As the gum disease destroys the tissue holding the teeth into the jawbone, the gums may also pull away from the teeth or recede.  Gum recession exposes the roots of the teeth and can cause sensitivity to temperature changes and sweets.  The exposed roots are more susceptible to cavities because they do not have a protective coating of enamel.

Gum recession is difficult to correct, so do not wait until your gums have receded to seek dental treatment!

Loose Teeth

Permanent teeth should never feel loose.  If you have one or more teeth that are loose, especially visibly loose, you may already have severe periodontal disease.  The looseness results from a loss of the attachment of bone and gum tissues around a tooth.  This loss of attachment is a result of the attack of bacterial toxins on the supporting foundation of bone.  Eventually, the disease destroys enough bone that there is little support for the tooth, and it becomes loose.

Concerned about Gum Disease?

Call 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can assess your risk and help you treat any gum disease as soon as possible.

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