The American Dental Association estimates that over half of Americans have some degree of gum disease, and it all starts with gingivitis. You may have heard the term before (it means “inflammation of the gums”), but do you know what signs and symptoms may indicate that gum disease has started in your mouth?
Dr. Gray and his team diagnose and provide gum disease treatment in their Fort Collins dental practice.
One of the really scary things about gum disease is that in many cases people do not even realize they have it until it has progressed to an advanced stage. You probably know someone who has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Chances are, they didn’t know they had it until a doctor took a blood pressure measurement. Gum disease can lurk under the gums undetected for many years--unless you have regular evaluations by a dentist.
Dr. Gray and his team look for many signs and risk factors for gum disease at their Fort Collins Dental Office. Some of these signs include measurement of the gums, specific evaluation of where the gums bleed and how much, loose teeth, bone levels, and gum recession. Evaluation of the gums by a dentist is the best way to identify the disease early, and the earlier the disease is treated, the less expensive, less invasive, and higher the likelihood of long-term gum health. In some cases, you may notice certain symptoms yourself. Here are a few warning signs of gingivitis and periodontitis (which is a more advanced stage of gum infection).
Inflamed, Red, Puffy Gums
Often the first sign of any infection includes inflammation. Healthy gums are pink and wrap
tightly around the teeth. Inflammation is a sign that infection has developed and your gums may look red, or even white, when they are unhealthy. Do your gums have a red line running along the edges of the teeth? This is a sign of severe gingivitis.
Above Left: Red puffy gum tissue is a sign of gingivitis and/or periodontitis. Above Right: healthy gums are uniformly pink and do not appear swollen or puffy.
Do you see pink in the sink when you spit out your toothpaste? What about blood along the gumline? Do you notice thick buildup of food or debris along your gumline? If you notice any of these things, you may have gingivitis. If something is lodged in your gums, it will usually resolve in a few days, but gingivitis will cause redness and bleeding that does not go away.
Sensitive or Painful Gums
Even in the early stages, your gums may hurt, feel more sensitive than usual, or feel like they burn. This is another sign that a trip to the dentist is necessary.
In some cases, the bacteria that infect the gums can cause severe bad breath. Even brushing and flossing multiple times each day will not alleviate this annoying symptom because the bacteria are too far below the gumline for floss or a toothbrush to reach.
What Options are available to Treat Gum Disease?
Dr. Gray and his Fort Collins Dental Office team perform a thorough evaluation of your gums and teeth before deciding what treatment will be most effective for your specific situation. After gathering diagnostic information, Dr. Gray will discuss treatment that is specifically designed to address the condition of your gums. There is no one-size-fits-all at Poudre Valley Family Dental.
Dr. Gray always starts with the most conservative treatment that will address the condition of your gums. Typically, this consists of a specific type of cleaning called gingivitis therapy or non-surgical periodontal therapy. When Dr. Gray sees how your gums respond to initial treatment, he will discuss whether additional treatment may be advisable.
Give us a call to schedule an appointment to make sure gum disease isn’t lurking below your gumline. The earlier gum disease is treated, the less invasive the treatment and the higher the likelihood of getting your gums back on track to a healthy smile.