While highly preventable, gum disease is an exceedingly prevalent gum condition capable of wreaking havoc on a patient’s dentition. Often patients aren’t even aware that they are exhibiting symptoms of the gingival condition until their dentition and oral health have already been compromised. As a result understanding what gum disease is and how to identify symptoms are a critical part of patient education that can make the difference in protecting your smile.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease occurs when plaque builds up and hardens into tartar. During this initial stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, the accumulation of tartar fosters accelerated bacteria growth, which causes gum irritation and redness. When left untreated, gingivitis progresses into periodontitis. In this second phase of the disease, the bacteria begin to create pockets between the teeth and gums, causing visible gum recession as well trapping food and bacteria in these periodontal pockets.
The final stage of gum disease, known as advanced periodontitis, is marked by the bacteria beginning to attack the bone and connective tissue which hold the teeth in place. As a result, patients experiencing this final stage of gum disease may also notice that their teeth becoming loose or even falling out in areas where the soft tissue has been severely affected by gum disease.
The Symptoms of Gum Disease
Often, patients fail to recognize the symptoms of gum disease before they are ready well into the second and third stages of periodontal disease. However, early identification can help patients protect their smile from the extensive damage that can be caused by untreated periodontal disease. Some of the initial symptoms patients experiencing gingivitis may exhibit include:
- Swollen, soft, tender or puffy gums
- Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
As the condition progresses into periodontitis or advanced periodontitis, patients may experience additional, more noticeable symptoms. These may include:
- Gums change color from a healthy pink to a bright red or purple
- Swollen or tender gum
- Gum recession, evidenced by the teeth appearing longer than normal
- New spaces developing between the teeth or a change in how the teeth fit together
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath or a bad taste
Diagnosing Gum Disease in Puyallup
At the South Puget Sound dental practice of Dr. Mark T. Ngo, our team is committed to helping patients regain their oral health. By providing periodontal care and long-term maintenance, our Puyallup dentist can help you regain a healthy smile. For more information about periodontal care, contact Dr. Ngo today.