Maintaining oral health is an important aspect of living a healthy lifestyle, especially because studies have continually linked tooth and gum diseases to many other conditions that may seem completely unrelated, such as diabetes and asthma. Basic oral hygiene can help to avoid most problems, but depending on diet, genetics, and other factors, many people may still find themselves experiencing mild to severe pain or other unpleasant symptoms in the mouth over time. These symptoms may point to the development of gum disease and should be assessed by a dental professional to help catch the condition as early as possible.

What Is Gum Disease? 

Gum disease is the infection and inflammation of the gum tissue that helps to hold your teeth together. It can be painful and uncomfortable and may lead to further complications if left untreated. Complications of severe gum disease include gum recession, loosening of teeth, loss of teeth, and bone damage in and around the mouth. 

While most cases of gum disease can be treated relatively easily by a general dental practitioner or periodontist using simple methods, if the disease is not addressed quickly enough, the necessary treatments may get more difficult and complicated. 

Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis 

The terms “gingivitis” and “periodontitis” are both used in reference to gum disease, and it’s important to understand the difference. 

Gingivitis is essentially the beginning stages of gum disease and is therefore typically more manageable and easily treatable. It usually manifests as swelling or bleeding in the gums. Periodontitis, on the other hand, is more serious. If gum disease is allowed to progress as far as periodontitis, you will notice deeper pockets in the tissue between your teeth. This, in turn, allows for much more bacteria to form, further exacerbating the problem. 

How Does Gum Disease Develop? 

Gum disease is the development of bacteria (plaque) on the teeth and gums. It most often develops as a result of poor oral hygiene, especially a lack of regular brushing and flossing, and gum disease stages progress and worsen over time without treatment. Missing regular dental cleanings can also contribute to the disease worsening under the radar. 

Risk Factors 

There are also some risk factors that can make a person more susceptible to the development of gum disease. These include smoking and teeth grinding, as well as diabetes. Other factors that may increase risk include: 

Needless to say, gum disease can happen to anyone, but if any of these risk factors apply to you, be especially diligent to keep an eye out for symptoms. 

What Are Common Symptoms of Gum Disease? 

There are several tell-tale symptoms that accompany gum disease. Here are some of the most prominent symptoms to keep an eye out for: 

Any or all of these symptoms may point to the development of gum disease. 

When Should You See a Dentist? 

Because gum disease can sometimes form without significant symptoms at first, once you notice any of these symptoms it’s important to get an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. There’s no way to predict how quickly the disease may progress beyond any given point, and getting the treatments and resources necessary as soon as possible will help prevent long-term damage. 

How Is Gum Disease Treated? 

There is a wide variety of treatment options available for gum disease, and different methods are more or less effective depending on the severity of each case. For milder cases of gum disease that are caught early on, for example, special toothpaste may be prescribed to help curb and keep the disease at bay. Mouthwash for gum disease may also be prescribed as a preventative measure.

Other treatment options for the various stages of gum disease include the following: 

In order to avoid the most extreme of these treatment possibilities, it’s important to both schedule regular dental cleanings and get the help of a dental professional as soon as possible if you notice symptoms of gum disease. 

Fredericksburg Smile Center and Ashland Smile Center Can Help 

Whether you’re experiencing any of these gum disease symptoms or are simply in need of a cleaning, contact us at Fredericksburg and Ashland Smile Center today to make an appointment and take a step toward better oral health. Our experienced team is here to help.