What is Gum Disease
Bacteria in your mouth create a sticky, colorless film on your teeth called plaque. The bacteria in plaque have toxins that can inflame the gums—the soft tissue around your teeth. We call the swelling and soreness caused by these toxins gum disease.
Plaque builds up when you do not remove it with regular brushing and flossing. This can infect your gums, teeth and bone, and can lead to tooth loss.
It is important to see your dentist regularly, because the symptoms of gum disease are not always easy to see and can be painless. Early treatment is essential in treating gum disease.
Three Stages of Gum Disease
- Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. It is a mild periodontal disease with symptoms including tender and bleeding gums. It can be treated with professional cleaning at your dentist’s office and regular brushing and flossing at home.
- Periodontitis is when plaque spreads to the roots and cause and infection. This can damage your teeth and the bone and fibers that hold them in place. You may notice your gums beginning to recede. This damage can be slowed with professional care and vigilant home cleaning.
- Advanced Periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease, in which the fibers and bone holding your teeth in place are destroyed. Your teeth can shift or loosen and your bite may be affected. Your teeth may need to be removed if treatment cannot save them.
Signs of Gum Disease
Your dentist or hygienist will be able to tell you if you have gum disease. Regular checkups are important to catch gum disease early, and you should see your dentist right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
- Red, sore, swollen or puffy gums, or bleeding gums
- Gums that have receded (pulled away from teeth)
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- A bad taste in your mouth or chronic bad breath
- Changes in how your teeth fit together when you bite
If treated early, gum disease can be reversed, so be sure to see your dentist at the first signs.