Gum disease is so common that in its earliest stages, it’s barely a concern to many people, barely worthy of the word “disease.” You can make it to all your classes and see the local sites like Ragtag Cinema or Rock Bridge park. After all, it’s just a little blood when you brush, right?
Unfortunately, it may not be that simple, but your dentist in Columbia is committed to eradicating gum disease before it reaches the third and most serious stage.
Which stage might you be in?
What is gum disease?
Put simply, gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums that can range from slight to very serious. It can occur at any age, though it is more prevalent at certain times, such as during pregnancy.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease starts with bacteria, which produces that sticky film called plaque you’re always brushing or flossing from your teeth. The plaque hardens in as little as 24 hours to tartar. It gets below the gumline and irritates your gums. It can eventually cause infection and tooth decay.
What are the stages of gum disease?
There are three stages of the disease:
If plaque is not removed daily, it irritates your gums and causes puffy, tender or red gums and bleeding when brushing and flossing. This stage is reversible because all symptoms are at or near the surface and affect only the gums.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, the disease goes deeper to connective tissue and bone. Pockets form below the gumline which gives bacteria and plaque a very effective breeding ground for escalating the progression of the disease. Your dentist may be able to halt the deterioration with treatment and you may prevent further damage with better oral hygiene.
By this point, the connective tissue and the bone supporting your teeth are beyond repair. Your teeth may become loose or shift. Aggressive treatment may be able to save your teeth, but this is not always possible.
What are the symptoms I should watch for?
At any stage, these symptoms warrant a visit to your doctor:
- Red, puffy, tender or bleeding gums
- Receding gums
- Shifting teeth or a change in your bite
- Pus around your teeth
- Constant bad breath
How can I be safe, not sorry?
It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of complacency about gum disease because it’s so common and seems relatively harmless at first. Remember that damage can always be occurring invisibly below the surface but that you play a significant role in whether early symptoms progress to irreversible damage.
With regular visits, your dentist can guide you in preventative or corrective measures to get and keep your smile as healthy as possible.
About the Author
Dr. Philip Batson grew up in this community and followed in his father’s footsteps. Dr. Batson uses state-of-the-art technology to provide the most comfortable and effective treatment for gum disease available today. Contact the team at (573) 875-7071 for an evaluation to help you determine where you might be in the spectrum of gum disease.