If you’ve been looking in the mirror lately thinking, “my smile doesn’t look the same!” it may be time to see a periodontist. Maybe you’re starting to notice your tooth roots, your teeth look a little longer, or your gums are starting to overtake your smile. On the other hand, maybe your teeth are becoming more sensitive and you’re experiencing tenderness in your gums! These are all telltale signs that it’s time to see a periodontist.
Periodontists are experts in treating periodontal disease (gum disease) and helping restore the beauty and health of your smile! If you’re not sure whether you should see a periodontist, we have the perfect checklist for evaluating your gum health at home.
Here’s 4 signs you may need to go to a periodontist for a comprehensive gum evaluation:
Sign #1. Your gums bleed
If you’re noticing bleeding when flossing or brushing, this is an early indicator that your gum health may be in trouble. Now you may have heard the terms “bleeding gums” and “gingivitis” used together. While it’s true bleeding gums is a symptom of early periodontal disease (gingivitis), it’s important to narrow down the cause. It’s in your best interest to request an appointment with one of our periodontal experts if you’re experiencing bleeding gums after these scenarios…
- If you haven’t been flossing regularly and your gums are still bleeding after 7 consecutive days of flossing.
- If you haven’t been brushing your teeth regularly and your gums are still bleeding after 7 consecutive days of flossing.
Why do your gums bleed after not brushing or flossing for a while? You’re removing bacterial buildup from your gums – underneath or on top of – and plaque is irritating to the gums.
Sign #2. You have swollen, tender gums
Gums that are sensitive, swollen or red are likely infected gums. When there’s bacteria irritating the sensitive tissue of your gums, your body will widen the blood vessels in that area and send in red blood cells to fight the infection – this causes a swollen, red appearance to your gums. With over 50% of adults having gingivitis on up to 4 teeth, you wouldn’t be alone in experiencing red, swollen gums. But it’s a critical sign of gum disease which leads to tooth loss and spells trouble for your overall health.
Sign #3. Your gums are receding
If your teeth appear to be getting longer, you may be seeing one of the early signs of periodontal disease. The bacteria in your gum pockets can destroy the gum and bone tissue around your tooth, causing your gums to start pulling away from your teeth to reveal your tooth roots. If it hurts when you eat cold or hot foods and beverages, you may have underlying periodontal disease. Gum disease makes teeth vulnerable as it exposes your tooth roots.
Sign #4. You have persistent bad breath
Ongoing bad breath and bad taste in your mouth is a sign that there are bacteria harboring in your mouth, specifically in the gums. Not brushing or flossing will allow food particles to get stuck in between your teeth and gums. While your saliva does a great job of breaking down food particles in your mouth to digest, brushing and flossing will remove trapped debris entirely. If not, after about 12 hours plaque will begin to form and cause further odor and damage to your teeth and gums!
What causes gum disease?
When plaque is not adequately removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden and turn into tartar or calculus, which is more challenging to remove and provides a breeding ground for bacteria. The bacteria in plaque and tartar produce toxins that irritate the gums, leading to inflammation and the early stage of gum disease (called gingivitis).
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, where the infection spreads beneath the gumline, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth and leading to bone and tissue loss.
Several factors contribute to the development and progression of gum disease, including:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Tobacco use
- Genetic predisposition
- Hormonal changes
- Certain medications
- Systemic diseases like diabetes
- Weakened immune system
How to prevent gum disease
- First and foremost, it’s essential to establish a consistent oral hygiene routine. Brush your teeth at least twice a day using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Make sure to clean along the gumline and reach all surfaces of your teeth. Don’t forget to floss daily to remove plaque and debris from between your teeth. Consider incorporating an antimicrobial mouthwash into your routine to further reduce bacteria.
- Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are vital for preventing gum disease. Schedule visits with your dentist at least twice a year, or as recommended, for a comprehensive examination and thorough cleaning. During these visits, your dentist can detect early signs of gum disease and refer you to us.
- It’s also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet, avoiding tobacco products, and managing stress, as these factors can impact your oral health.
What to do if you notice these signs or symptoms:
If you notice any of the above symptoms, please schedule an appointment with us – a top periodontist near you!
These signs may indicate periodontal disease, an infection of the gums which can eventually destroy the support of your teeth. Over time, areas of the bone can be affected which is then called periodontitis. At that stage, the gums can pull away from the teeth and form pockets of bacteria and debris. The end result can be tooth loss if the disease is not treated; therefore when it comes to fighting periodontal disease, early detection is critical!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We love to hear from you. We’re here to support you and your gums! At PHC, our highly-experienced periodontists are dedicated to improving your gum health and providing you with the resources you need to maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. When you visit us, we’ll examine your condition and discuss our treatment options to help you make the best decision for your health.