By James L. Pyle, DDS
July 10, 2019
Category: Oral Health

Gum disease is one of the most common dental disorders that our Durham, NC, dentist sees. Unfortunately, many people never even know that they have gum disease until more serious issues begin to set in. It’s important that if you recognize any of the warning signs of gum disease that you call your dentist right away.

Some of these symptoms include:

  • Red, puffy, and tender gums
  • Gums that bleed, especially when brushing, flossing, or eating certain foods
  • Receding gums, which make teeth appear longer
  • Loose teeth
  • Pus between the gums and teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in your bite (feeling as if your teeth don’t properly fit together)

Unfortunately, these symptoms don’t happen to everyone and many not even appear until gum disease has advanced. There are three stages of gum disease:

Gingivitis: This is the first stage that results in inflammation of the gums due to the buildup of bacteria under and along the gum line. This buildup occurs when you don’t properly brush and floss your teeth and gums. Luckily, gingivitis can be detected during a routine dental checkup and even reversed with simple changes to your lifestyle and oral routine, as well as more regular professional cleanings.

Periodontitis: At this point the gums have begun to recede from your teeth, leading to bone and fiber damage that can’t be repaired. Pockets of infection will begin to form along the gum line. While periodontitis cannot be reversed it can be properly managed with a professional deep cleaning known as scaling and root planing.

Advanced Periodontitis: This is considered full-blown gum disease. This is where the bones and fibers are completely destroyed. Patients with advanced periodontitis are also at risk for loose teeth or may have already dealt with tooth loss. Sometimes surgery may be required in this case to treat the problem, but it’s important that the patient seeks treatment immediately.

Who is at risk for developing gum disease?

While gum disease can happen to anyone no matter their age or gender, there are certain risk factors that can increase your chances for developing gum disease. If you are at an increased risk it’s a good idea to talk with your Durham, NC, general dentist to find out what you can do to safeguard your smile against gum disease.

Some of these risk factors include:

  • Hormonal fluctuations (e.g. pregnancy; menopause)
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking or tobacco consumption
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Certain medications (e.g. oral contraception; anti-depressants)
  • Poor nutrition

Whether you are noticing changes in your gums or you just need to schedule your next dental cleaning, don’t hesitate to call our Durham, NC, dental office today to schedule an appointment. We handle dental emergencies!