A little less than half (47%) of American adults 30 and older have gum disease. Left untreated, the more advanced form of the disease can contribute to gum damage, bone damage, and permanent tooth loss. Gum disease can also increase your risk of heart disease.
While gum disease is serious, it’s important to know that gingivitis 一 the earliest form of gum disease 一 can be reversed. The key is to catch it early.
Below, Dr. Hinna Chaudhry and our team here at Ardsley Dental Spa in Ardsley, New York, identify some early signs of gum disease. If you spot these signs, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and get the dental care you need.
4 signs of early gum disease
Gingivitis happens when too much bacteria-laden plaque builds up against your gums. Your gum tissue is delicate and easily irritated by plaque, leading to:
Red, tender gums
Healthy gums should be moist and pink. If yours are suddenly redder, it could indicate gingivitis. You might also notice your gums seem puffy. Swelling and redness likely mean your gums are inflamed and irritated 一 the beginning stages of gingivitis.
You might not notice any symptoms of gingivitis at first, but as it progresses, your gums might bleed easily. If you see blood in the sink when you brush your teeth, give us a call.
Note that not all oral bleeding is caused by gingivitis. If you floss vigorously, for example, you could damage your gums and cause bleeding; don’t snap the floss between your teeth. Routine flossing and brushing shouldn’t cause bleeding.
Plaque is a sticky biofilm loaded with bacteria. It’s the culprit behind tooth decay and gum disease and a major contributor to bad breath. That’s because bacteria produce an odor, and a heavy bacteria presence (in plaque) can lead to less-than-fresh breath.
Unfortunately, bad breath is also a sign that you’re at risk of decay and gum disease. If you notice bad breath that’s unrelated to food choices, don’t ignore it.
As gingivitis progresses, you might start to notice signs of infection. These include pus near your gum line, fever, and increased swelling.
Advanced gum disease (periodontitis) can also cause wiggly teeth, bite problems (if bone is affected and teeth are lost), receding gum lines, and pain when chewing. The more severe your gum disease, the harder it is to treat. Some complications, such as tooth loss, are permanent.
What to do if you spot the signs of gingivitis
If you suspect you’re in the early stages of gum disease, take action now. Gingivitis is reversible with treatment. First, consider revamping your oral hygiene habits:
- Brush for a full two minutes twice a day
- Tilt your brush at a 45-degree angle to thoroughly clean the gum line
- Use toothpaste with the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance
- Floss thoroughly
- Use mouthwash
Even with a solid at-home oral care routine, it’s important to schedule routine dental cleanings. During your exam, we look for early signs of gingivitis. If needed, we prescribe medicated mouthwashes and/or antibiotics and provide guidance on at-home oral care.
If your gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis, Dr. Chaudry may recommend more advanced treatments, such as gum grafts, bone grafts, or laser gum surgery (LANAP).
To learn more about gingivitis or to explore your treatment options for gum disease, call us at 914-348-9815 today or book your appointment online.