Today, we’d like to tackle a topic that impacts many Americans–a full half, in fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): periodontal disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), gum disease is a “chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth [and] if left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.” With so many Americans suffering from gum disease, it is important to know the signs, symptoms, and ways to reverse or prevent it.
Periodontal Disease: Signs and Symptoms
The early stage of periodontal disease is referred to as gingivitis. Luckily, gingivitis is easy to spot, so you can get to work reversing it ASAP. According to this helpful guide from Colgate, you can stay on the lookout for these symptoms:
- Gum inflammation and redness
- Appearance of longer teeth due to gumline recession
- Bad breath
You may also experience some slight bleeding after brushing or flossing.
Colgate makes note of some more concerning signs as well, such as the presence of “pus between the tooth and gum: Gum disease is likely if a thick, yellow fluid develops in the pocket between the tooth and gum. The fluid or pus may swell and be painful if pressure builds between the tooth and gum. An infection in the pocket between the tooth and gum is what causes pus to develop.” They explain that this is a sign of full-blown infection, and might even result in a periodontal abscess or gum abscess.
Treating and Preventing Periodontal Disease
If you are experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, it is imperative that you make an appointment with your dentist right away so that he or she can do a visual check as well as utilize a periodontal probe to investigate the degree of the problem. If necessary, your dentist or dental hygienist can take steps such as scaling and root planing to alleviate the condition in-office.
With mild to moderate gingivitis, patients can usually take many steps to begin to reverse course on their own between visits. These steps include careful focus on all of the hallmarks of strong oral hygiene that most people already know (even if we do not always follow through) including brushing at least twice a day, flossing, and using a fluoride mouthwash. Most importantly, make twice-yearly cleanings a high priority so that your dental professionals can help you ward off gum disease before it starts.