Gum Disease: Symptoms and Treatment
May 22, 2020
Gum disease is a largely silent but significant problem that can negatively impact our oral health. Estimates from the World Health Organization has found that as many as 3.5 billion people worldwide are suffering from this progressive condition, with 10% of the global population affected by the most serious form of the condition – periodontitis.
Gum disease is characterized by the swelling and inflammation of gum tissue, caused by the presence of bacteria that has moved from the teeth onto the gums. Eventually infection can set in, causing a range of debilitating symptoms and in its worst form, cause the deterioration of the teeth’ supporting structures. Severe gum disease has also been linked to the development of serious general health conditions including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. Spotting gum disease early and arranging for treatment is strongly recommended for overall oral and general health and wellbeing.
Symptoms of gum disease
The signs and symptoms of gum disease are progressive, but they start out being incredibly subtle and easy to overlook or ignore, which is one of the reasons it is often referred to as a silent condition. In its earliest stages, gum diseases causes:
- Red, swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth or chew on something hard
At this point, the gum disease is entirely reversible, so it is crucial that it is detected as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to tell if you are suffering from gum disease, even if you cannot. If the condition isn’t diagnosed early on, it could progress and lead to a range of more significant symptoms. These include:
- Severe or persistent bad breath
- Pus or abscesses on the gum
- Receding gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Significant dental pain
Eventually, the structures supporting the teeth, including the gums, root, and even jawbone can be affected by the infection, deteriorate, and fail to hold the teeth in place anymore. The bacteria can also enter the bloodstream and pass around your body, reaching and compromising your major organs.
Treatment for gum disease
Fortunately, there is a range of treatments that can help patients to recover from gum disease. Some of the most effective include:
Improved brushing and flossing. In the early stages of gum disease, simply ramping up your oral hygiene routine may be sufficient to reverse the effects of the condition. Excellent brushing and flossing can prevent bacteria-filled plaque from spreading onto the gums and triggering inflammation and infection.
Professional dental cleans. Visiting the dentist for a professional clean every 4-6 months is a great way to keep periodontal disease at bay. Your dentist will remove any plaque along with the hardened form of it – tartar – which can only be removed using professional equipment, and this can help to prevent gum disease from worsening.
Scaling and root planing. This deep-clean treatment involves the removal of plaque, tartar and any infected tissue from the teeth and smoothing the tooth root to help your gums reattach to your teeth. This may take more than one visit to complete and will require a local anesthetic.
LANAP Protocol. Laser technology has transformed many areas of dentistry, including treatment for gum disease. With LANAP laser technology, the ultra-thin laser targets the diseased tissue, sending pulses to gently remove it while leaving all healthy gum tissue in the area intact. LANAP can be used to remove diseased tissue and recontour the gums so that they are more attractive and natural in appearance, all without any need for sutures. Better still, most patients can fully recover from LANAP in less than 24 hours.
For more information on any of the symptoms and treatments for gum disease, or to schedule an appointment, please contact our dental practice.