Your gums are very important to your overall oral health. Because they are soft tissue and your mouth is a wet environment, bacteria are always present. When you don’t practice daily oral hygiene, bacteria and plaque are left in your mouth for too long, leading to gum disease. Bacteria occur in everyone’s mouth due to mucus, food debris, and plaque. This means everyone is at risk for gum disease if the plaque in your mouth is left to harden and form tartar. This can attack your tooth enamel and the tissue below your gum line.
If you are not visiting your dentist for regular checkups, signs of gum disease can go unnoticed, allowing it to progress. Gum disease can range from mild inflammation in the early stages of gingivitis to a serious condition called periodontitis.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the mildest form and earliest stages of gum disease. If left unchecked, it develops into periodontitis. Gingivitis is treatable with minimally invasive options, which means it is important to have regular dental checkups so it can be caught early.
What are the signs of gingivitis?
Signs of gingivitis include:
- Bright red or purple gums
- Tender or even painful gums
- Bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Soft gums
When you see these symptoms, you should call us right away so we can provide proper treatment.
What happens if gingivitis isn’t caught early?
If gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress to periodontitis, causing significant damage to the bone and soft tissue that support your teeth. This is because the bacteria in your mouth cause your immune system to attack the gum tissue and bone around your teeth.
The bacteria in your mouth can also get into your bloodstream, which can spread throughout your entire body leading to additional health problems.
How is periodontitis treated?
Treatment for periodontitis is more invasive than simple cleaning. It can require deeper cleaning called root planing and, in more serious cases, surgery and possibly bone and tissue grafts. These treatments are also expensive.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Although gum disease mainly affects people in their 30s or 40s, teens can also get gingivitis, although rarely. It is also more common in men.
In the early stages of gingivitis, it might not be as obvious because it is painless. However, as it worsens, you can watch for these symptoms:
- Loose teeth: Once the infection takes hold, your teeth can become loose. Deeper gum pockets around the teeth cause this.
- Receding gums: Gum recession can occur as the tissue around your teeth erodes.
- Sensitive teeth: As your gums recede, your teeth will become sensitive. Gums recede when you lose the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the softer dentin below.
- Discomfort when eating: With the recession of your gums and loosening of your teeth, it can become painful to chew.
- Bad breath: Halitosis is an ongoing bad breath that can also leave a bad taste in your mouth. The accumulation of plaque on your teeth forms toxins which cause a bad taste and smell.
- Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums: Inflammation caused by the bacteria in your mouth leads to redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. However, in the early stages of gingivitis, although there is inflammation, it is usually not painful.
As the disease progresses, you might also experience:
- Pus around the teeth and gums
- Mouth sores
- Shiny gums
- Change to your bite
- Poor-fitting dentures if you have them
- More gaps and spaces between your teeth
Any of these symptoms call for a dental appointment!
Who is at greater risk of gum disease?
There are some factors that can put you at higher risk, including:
- Certain medications: There are many medications that can cause dry mouth. Without proper saliva flow, you can’t properly flush away germs and food debris which can lead to gum disease. Medications can also cause abnormal growth of gum tissue, which can make it harder to keep your gums and teeth clean.
- Ageing: As mentioned, gum disease is more common in people in their 30s and 40s. However, those over 65 have the highest occurrence of periodontitis.
- Poor diet: If you are not getting enough nutrients, your immune system will be weaker. This will make it harder for your body to fight against infections, including gum disease.
- Obesity: Being overweight can also increase the risk of gum problems.
- Smoking: Smoking puts you at risk for many serious diseases, including increasing the chance for you to get gum disease. If you do have gum disease and smoke, it decreases the effectiveness of treatment.
- Diabetes: When you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for many types of infections, including gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Other medical conditions: Conditions like cancer and AIDS, in hand with their treatments, can contribute to your risk for gum disease
- Genetics: Some family histories include vulnerability to periodontitis.
- Teeth grinding: Grinding or clenching your teeth can aggravate gum diseases due to added pressure on your teeth.
- Pregnancy and menopause: Although gum disease is more common in men, hormones during menopause and pregnancy can make gums more susceptible to gingivitis for women.
- Anxiety: Stress can reduce your ability to fight infection.
If you have any of the above risk factors, it’s always best to have regular dental checkups so we can keep an eye on your gum health.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
Although gum disease is very common, it is also very preventable. It just takes good oral hygiene habits to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Even if you have some of the risk factors, proper oral hygiene, in hand with regular dental checkups, will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.
Focusing on both brushing and proper flossing every day will help you reduce plaque and bacteria. Along with regular dental cleanings, your teeth will remain healthy. You should also always look for signs of gum disease. Because the early signs do not cause noticeable pain, you can look for things such as swollen or bleeding gums.
You can also make healthier choices including:
- Enjoy a healthier diet
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
This will help keep your teeth and gums healthy.
What are the consequences of gum disease?
The number one cause of tooth loss in adults is gum disease. By maintaining a good oral health regime and scheduling annual comprehensive periodontal evaluations, you can help avoid the pain, expensive treatment, and the possibility of tooth loss associated with gum diseases. We can provide advice on protecting yourself against gum disease based on your health and history.
If you are worried about gum disease, contact Dawson Dental here to set up an appointment with our team.
Wisdom teeth are the final set of molars that appear most commonly in your late teens. Not everyone has wisdom teeth. They, unfortunately, often grow in misaligned and will require removal. Misaligned wisdom teeth can be angled towards your second molars, which can lead to crowding and damage other teeth, your jawbone, and nerves. When there are issues with your wisdom teeth, we might recommend extraction to avoid complications.
What are impacted wisdom teeth?
Impacted wisdom teeth are prevented from fully erupting. They can remain under the soft tissue and/or the jawbone, but can also be partially exposed through the gum. When teeth are unable to erupt, there is often a physical barrier, such as other teeth. If the angle in your teeth is incorrect this will also prevent erupting.
Do you always have to remove wisdom teeth?
When your wisdom teeth are not impacted, we will not recommend removal if:
- Your wisdom teeth are healthy.
- They have fully erupted without issue.
- They are positioned correctly without causing issues with bite or your other teeth.
- They can be cared for without causing hygiene issues.
There is no reason to go through the extraction procedure with healthy, aligned, and fully erupted wisdom teeth. In some cases, impacted wisdom teeth that are completely covered by bone and gum tissue that do not appear to be changing in their position will not require removal.
When should wisdom teeth be removed?
Other issues that will require wisdom teeth removal including:
- Not having enough room for the teeth to grow in properly.
- Teeth growing in at extreme angles.
- Teeth that are impacted and remain completely hidden within the gums.
- Partial eruption that leads to hygiene issues.
- Risk for the crowding of your other teeth.
It is often easier to remove wisdom teeth at a younger age, as this allows for faster recovery. Patients in their teens do not have fully formed roots and bone.
Why can’t I keep my partially erupted wisdom teeth?
When your teeth have partially erupted, they are exposed to bacteria, which can cause an infection. Infected wisdom teeth lead to pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and a feeling of general illness. Partially erupted teeth can also be prone to decay. This can lead to gum disease and cavities because these teeth are harder to keep clean.
Can we watch and wait to see if issues develop?
In cases where wisdom teeth aren’t fully covered by bone, it is often okay to take a watch-and-wait approach to see how the teeth progress. We can review the potential risks of taking this approach to help you decide what is best for you. We will also consider things such as how close the teeth might be to nerves, as well as issues such as partially erupted teeth developing cavities. Other things we would monitor include cellulitis and episodes of pericoronitis.
We will often decide to take an X-ray to look for signs that circumstances have changed. If we determine there is more risk to keeping your wisdom teeth, then we will recommend removal. It is important to keep track of the progress, as it will not always be obvious that a problem is developing.
Are there other reasons wisdom teeth should be extracted?
There are some changes to your teeth that could make extraction necessary, including:
- Ongoing pain
- Repeated infection
- Cysts or tumours
- Damage to nearby teeth
- Gum disease
- Extensive tooth decay
We will discuss these issues to determine if they are, in fact, caused by your wisdom teeth.
Why do some people not believe in removing wisdom teeth?
One of the main concerns about wisdom teeth removal is whether or not the extraction is justified. We will only recommend removal if there are issues that can lead to complications. The cost of wisdom teeth extraction is also a concern for those without dental benefits. When the extraction is required, it is far more cost-effective to make a simple financial plan with our office than it is to risk further, more costly complications down the road.
If you would like more information on wisdom teeth, contact Dawson Dental here.