Gum disease is something everyone knows about, but few people worry about the state of their gums until the second (periodontitis) or third stage (advanced periodontitis) of gum disease has set in. There are many, many reasons you need to address gum disease quickly, but the most important is the risk it poses to your overall health. Unchecked gum disease can not only lead to tooth loss and bone recession but allows bacteria to seep into your bloodstream, making you more susceptible to stroke and heart disease. Additionally, pregnant women should take close care of their teeth and gums because gum disease has also been linked to premature births and low-weight newborns.
Now is an especially good time to take stock of your oral health. With Halloween candy, Thanksgiving desserts, and holiday delights filling our stores and homes, you’re more apt to develop cavities and gum disease this time of year. You can combat the seasonal temptations by brushing and flossing after eating sugary or starchy foods.
Our general and restorative dentists at Arlington Dental Aesthetics and South Riding Smiles can help you avoid or treat gum disease, but it’s important for you to understand what exactly comes with this condition:
Stage 1: Gingivitis
The first warning signs of gum disease come with stage one, gingivitis. Gingivitis causes your gums to swell due to the plaque growth around your gum line. Stage one typically arises following poor dental hygiene but may also be genetic. If you notice your gums are bleeding when you brush or floss, you likely have the beginning of gum disease. However, gingivitis can easily be reversed because no lasting damage has been done to the tissues connecting your teeth to your gums.
Stage 2: Periodontitis
During the second stage of gum disease, periodontitis sets in which begins to destroy the connective tissues and fibers that support your jawbone and keep your teeth in their rightful place. You will notice pockets forming below your gum line, which will accumulate plaque and bacteria, causing more damage. The damage done during periodontitis is difficult to reverse, but you can prevent further deterioration by seeing our dentist for a thorough cleaning and taking proper care of your teeth morning and night. You may want to consider brushing after meals or at least rinsing with water to help the recovery process.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
When advanced periodontitis sets in, you’ve experienced irreversible damage. Your jaw bone is recessing, and the fibers which support your teeth are destroyed. Your bite could be affected, teeth may need to be extracted, or you may lose one or more teeth due to the lack of connective tissues to hold them in place. Aggressive periodontal treatment may alleviate some of the severe symptoms, but your mouth will likely still suffer permanent damage. Restorative dentistry measures such as dental implants may help as well.
You can avoid the nasty problems that come with gum disease by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and rinsing with mouthwash (or at least water) after meals and snacks. Regular dental exams and cleanings with one of our dentists will also prevent or eradicate early gum disease.
Some early symptoms you should watch for include:
- Gums that are tender, red, and/or swollen
- Bleeding while you brush or floss
- Elongated teeth could indicate receding gums
- Gum separation from your teeth
- Changes in your bite
- Pus around your gums
- Chronic bad breath
If you have gum disease or it’s time for your dental exam and teeth cleaning, please contact our dentists in Arlington at (703) 527-1020 or in South Riding at (703) 327-7705 to schedule your exam and consultation. We serve clients in Northern Virginia including Arlington, South Riding, and surrounding areas.