It’s normal to have some bacteria in your mouth at all times. In fact, most oral bacteria are completely harmless. But when bad bacteria accumulates and is not removed in a timely manner you can develop gum disease.
Periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum disease, is a progressive condition. In its early form, it is known as gingivitis. At this point, the gums are inflamed, but there may not be any obvious symptoms to someone who is not a dental professional.
Since gingivitis is normally easily prevented and treated by the patient themselves at home, you may be wondering what is the big deal? The problem is that you may neglect the situation until gingivitis progresses into periodontitis.
This more advanced stage of gum disease involves damage to the structures supporting the teeth, eventually causing them to loosen and possibly result in having to remove them..
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that normally causes minor issues that may come and go. Some of the signs that you may have gingivitis include:
- Gums that are red and swollen
- Bleeding gums after brushing or flossing your teeth
- Gums that bleed without any apparent cause
Although periodontitis shares many symptoms with gingivitis, it is a far more serious disease that can result in the loss of the bones that support and surround the teeth, potentially requiring ongoing dental therapy to stop its progress.
It’s actually very difficult to tell sometimes because the bone loss occurs below the gum tissue and is typically painless. So although from the surface things may seem fine or a little irritated a larger problem could be developing and progressing below the surface.
The same oral bacteria that causes gingivitis can cause the formation of tartar around your teeth if you are not keeping up with your routine dental cleaning appointments. This can cause additional inflammation under the gum line. Pockets then begin forming between your gums and teeth because of bone loss to the surrounding bone.
If you do not receive treatment at this time, these pockets can deepen, leading to increased inflammation and damage to the structures surrounding your teeth.
So if you spot the early signs of gingivitis at home, or we detect it during a routine dental exam, you will definitely need to get back on track with your oral hygiene routine at home. This means regularly brushing and flossing your teeth to remove plaque as it forms.
And you also need to keep up with your dental exam and cleaning appointments that we schedule for you on a regular basis so that we can remove any plaque that you may have missed at home and review best home care practices with you.
Thanks for your support!
– Dr. Houlik