Taking care of your teeth is crucial to avoiding severe conditions affecting your oral health and general well-being. Dentists recommend regular brushing and flossing to remove stuck food particles from the mouth and prevent buildup that results in gingivitis and gum disease. Gum disease is a grave oral health issue. It can affect the health of your teeth, gums, and jawbone. The infection can also spread to other body parts through the bloodstream. That would affect your general health.
However, treatment for gum disease is available, though prevention and early intervention are recommended to minimize the impact and cost of treatment. Our highly trained and experienced general dentists at Beach Dental Care Anaheim have the necessary skills to diagnose and treat gum disease at any level. We recommend our services if you suspect you have gum disease in Anaheim. We conduct an in-depth dental examination to establish the spread of the infection and recommend the proper treatment. Our services are available for all members of your family.
A Brief Overview of Gum Disease
Gum disease is an oral infection that affects your gums and, eventually, your teeth, jawbone, and general health. It begins as gingivitis, a mild disease, and advances to more dangerous levels if left untreated. Gingivitis has several symptoms, but the most common is bleeding gums. It starts mildly but can quickly progress if conditions in the mouth remain the same. Periodontitis, or gum disease, is the most advanced state of the disease, as it eventually results in teeth and bone loss.
Gingivitis is a serious threat to adolescents and older adults. The disease develops when stuck food particles are left in the mouth for prolonged periods. The food particles combine with bacteria in the mouth to form a dental plaque that causes buildup on the gum line. Good oral hygiene, including brushing at least twice daily and flossing once, can help prevent dental plaque. If the buildup continues, the gums will become tender and start bleeding. The good news is that gingivitis can be treated effectively if caught and treated early.
Gum disease occurs in three stages. Each stage showcases different signs and calls for a different treatment approach:
- Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, whereby the gums become inflamed, not infected. Treating the disease in this state would prevent irreversible effects of the disease on your gums, teeth, jawbone, and general health. Some symptoms to look out for include swollen, reddish, bleeding gums and bad breath.
- Periodontitis occurs if the inflammation is not treated and tartar or calculus builds up on your gum line. The gum tissue becomes infected, which could result in receding gums when your gums start separating from your teeth. Eventually, your teeth will become loose after losing their gum support.
- Advanced periodontitis occurs when the infection spreads to the gum tissues and jawbone. It becomes increasingly difficult and painful to chew or brush your teeth. Some of your teeth start falling at this stage.
Causes of Gum Disease
Your mouth has bacteria from the saliva, which aids in digesting certain food types. When you fail to maintain excellent oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth as required, bacteria combine with stuck food particles in your mouth to cause swelling and inflammation. The reaction is dangerous to your oral health. The inflammation affects your gums, causing them to feel tender, bleed, and be painful. If the inflammation is not treated, an infection spreads, deepening your gum pockets and allowing more food particles between your gums and teeth. That causes more plaque to develop in the gums, causing the infection to spread even deeper.
The bacteria becomes more dangerous when it comes into contact with stuck food particles in the mouth. Since the areas between the gums and teeth are difficult to reach during regular brushing and flossing, they become breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria. After feeding on the remaining food particles, the bacteria create a sticky film (plaque) that attaches to the gums and teeth. Plaque eventually hardens, causing tartar or calculus (hard yellowish residue). Tartar is a perfect breeding environment for bacteria attacking soft and sensitive gum tissue.
As the infection spreads to the gum tissues, it causes your gum pockets to become deeper and wider, exposing your teeth and making them weak and shaky.
Who is at Risk of Gum Disease?
Since plaque is the key culprit in causing gum disease, most people are at risk of suffering from the infection. But some people are at higher risk than others. These people are:
Menopausal Women and Teenage Girls
Menopausal women and teenagers are more affected by hormonal changes than everyone else. Hormones are more active during menopause and puberty. These changes make your gums more susceptible to gum disease. Women are more at risk during their menstrual days.
Desquamative gingivitis is mainly reported in postmenopausal women. It is an excruciating oral problem that causes the outer part of the gum to detach from your teeth. That leaves your teeth loose, unsupported, and crooked. The condition can also expose the nerve endings, causing you extreme pain. This condition increases your risk of gum disease.
Pregnant women are also affected by surging hormones during the nine months of their pregnancy. That explains why most report bleeding gums. Additionally, hormonal imbalances can result in pregnancy gingivitis, which puts you at a higher risk of gum disease. Pregnancy gingivitis starts with a reddish pseudotumor on one or more of your teeth that can cause severe bleeding.
If you have diabetes, you could be at a higher risk of gum disease. The condition makes the disease worse. You must seek treatment immediately when you see the first signs of gingivitis.
People Who Smoke
Smokers are at a higher risk of gum disease because tobacco increases buildup levels in the gums and teeth. Continued smoking causes the infection to spread faster underneath the gums and into other body parts.
Other people at risk of gum disease are those with vitamin deficiencies, especially vitamins B3 and C. Also, stress increases your risk of gum disease. Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is one of the most painful forms of gingivitis. It develops suddenly due to stress or after a severe traumatic event.
Other Factors That Could Cause Gum Disease
In addition to these risk factors, several factors cause gum disease, including the following:
Dental fillings are necessary in cases of cavities. A filling covers the cavity to prevent further damage to the affected tooth. However, food particles can easily be trapped under dental fillings, which are hard-to-reach areas when brushing and flossing, resulting in gingivitis and gum disease.
Poorly-Fitted Dental Installations
Professional dentists fit dental restorations in a way that will enable proper oral hygiene. However, poorly fitted restorations can quickly become breeding grounds for bacteria that cause gum disease. For example, a poorly fitted dental crown can trap food particles, eventually resulting in gingivitis and gum disease.
Crooked or Misaligned Teeth
Crooked teeth are hard to keep clean. When regularly brushing and flossing, the areas between misaligned teeth are hard to reach. If you are not keen on professional teeth cleaning, those crooks and crevices between the teeth can be a perfect breeding ground for gingivitis-causing bacteria.
Since braces are installed on top of your teeth, they could make it hard to reach them when brushing and flossing. That could leave some food particles on and between your teeth.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Remember that gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. In that case, you will likely see or experience mild signs of gingivitis before the infection spreads to other parts of your mouth and body. Mild gingivitis will present some of the following signs:
- Reddish, swollen gums
- A gummy smile
- Receding gums
- Red or purple patches on the gum line
- Bleeding gums when eating, brushing, or flossing
- Halitosis or bad breath that does not go away even with proper hygiene
- An awful taste in your mouth
- Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot
Some people do not experience any pain until the disease is at an advanced stage. Since most of these symptoms are mild initially, it is easy to ignore the condition until it has advanced. Additionally, people who do not regularly visit their dentist can miss out on the disease’s onset, only realizing what it is and starting treatment a little later. The symptoms become more worrying once the disease advances and spreads to the soft tissues below the gumline. They could include the following:
- One or several loose teeth
- Teeth that have shifted position (they will feel different and look different, especially when biting down)
- Pus in the spaces between the gums and teeth (it indicates tooth abscess or infection)
- Reddish gums
- Several yellow or gray mouth ulcers on your gums or inside your cheeks
Actions to Take When You Suspect Gum Disease
The common assumption for people who experience bleeding gums at the onset of gingivitis is that they have brushed too hard. While that could be the case, you must take action immediately if you notice other symptoms like reddish gums or your gums bleed the next time you brush. Trying to be gentle the next time you brush your teeth can solve the problem, but it could aggravate the disease if you have gingivitis. You should speak to your dentist immediately after you notice something different with your teeth or gums.
If you have other symptoms but are still unsure whether it is gingivitis, schedule a meeting with a general dentist immediately. Ensure you speak of all the symptoms you have experienced, however minor they seem. A good dentist will investigate the matter to rule out gingivitis and other oral conditions before letting you go.
Skilled general dentists use a measuring gadget to check if the gums have begun separating from the teeth. Your dentist will also watch out for other indications of the disease and its extent. If your gums are inflamed, and the infection has not started to spread, your dentist will recommend some medication to stop the infection altogether. But if the disease has spread, your dentist can order an X-ray to determine the extent of the disease and the condition of your jawbone.
See your dentist immediately if your gums are bleeding, painful, reddish, or have experienced other signs of gingivitis. A skilled dentist will remove the cause of the infection or inflammation before it causes irreversible damage to your gums, teeth, and jawbone.
Treatment for Gum Disease
If you have signs of gingivitis, improving your oral hygiene can help improve the situation. But talking to your dentist and receiving appropriate treatment first is an excellent idea. The advantage of seeking a professional opinion is that your dentist can determine the extent of the disease and develop the proper treatment for you.
If your gums are inflamed but not infected, a skilled dentist will recommend professional teeth cleaning to remove buildup and any stuck food particles that could cause further inflammation. They will advise you on how to take better care of your teeth. In some cases, you could need a particular type of cleaning tool or mouthwash to prevent bacteria growth in the future.
Your dentist will recommend treatment depending on the cause of the buildup that has resulted in gingivitis. If you have a cavity or poorly-fitted dental restoration, they will first fix the underlying problem, clean your teeth to remove buildup, and advise you on how best to care for your teeth and gums moving forward.
A more severe case of gum disease will require more intense intervention to stop the infection, remove the buildup, and fix the damage the disease will have caused to your gums, teeth, and jawbone. For example, your dentist can recommend tooth scaling to remove buildup on the tooth surface. Tooth scaling will deep-clean your teeth to remove tartar and plaque above and below your gum line. Your dentist could need to repeat the process after four or six months to ensure that the buildup causing gingivitis is completely removed from your teeth.
If your disease is advanced, your dentist can recommend root planing to remove buildup and smooth the affected tooth surfaces. Root planing is done during deep cleaning to smooth out rough patches on your teeth' roots and ensure that there is less surface for the buildup to cling to.
Flap surgery is also done in the advanced stages of gum disease. This treatment is done by a periodontist, who creates an incision into the gums to reach the infected tissues. They clean the infected area thoroughly and then stitch up the gum to allow it to heal. If your bone is affected, your dentist can recommend bone grafting to restore its look, feel, and functionality. Bone grafting will be necessary if you have lost one or more teeth and could consider dental implants.
You Can Prevent Gum Disease
Even if the risks of gum disease are high for some people, you can prevent it. Dentists recommend maintaining excellent oral hygiene as the key to preventing gum disease. These are steps you can take to maintain excellent oral hygiene:
- Brush your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day. Clean all parts of your teeth and mouth to remove stuck food particles.
- Floss once a day
- Rinse your mouth using an antibacterial mouthwash.
- Use a dental jet to clean nooks and crevices in your mouth (recommended for people susceptible to gingivitis).
- Change your toothbrush at least every three or four months
- Brush more carefully if you have braces or a dental restoration
- Stop smoking
- Visit your dentist at least twice a year for general checkups and professional cleanings.
If you need help cleaning your teeth correctly, ask your dentist to demonstrate how you should do it. Dentists are willing and ready to assist you with anything you need to keep your teeth in the best possible condition. Your dentist can also recommend the right toothbrush and toothpaste to use.
Find a Skilled General Anaheim Dentist Near Me
Gum disease is a severe oral health problem affecting your gums, teeth, jawbone, and well-being. It starts mildly and can spread quickly to other parts of your mouth. Gum disease can cause irreversible damage to your teeth, gums, and jawbone. That is why you must seek treatment for gingivitis before the disease advances. It helps to speak to a skilled and experienced general dentist if you suspect gingivitis for a proper and timely diagnosis.
At Beach Dental Care Anaheim, we use the best diagnostic tools to examine your gums and teeth for gingivitis and gum disease if you already present some symptoms. Then, we consider your treatment history to recommend the best treatment plan. Our general dentists have the skills and experience to handle gum disease at all stages. We could involve specialized dentists like periodontists and oral surgeons if needed. Call us at 714-995-4000 to learn more about our services if you suspect gum disease. We offer quality dental care services for the entire family in Anaheim and the surrounding areas.