Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing at least once a day is key to maintaining a healthy smile. However, do your gums ever bleed when you brush or floss? If so, this may be an early sign of gum disease, which – if left untreated – can worsen over time and eventually lead to tooth loss. February is National Gum Disease Awareness Month, so what better time than now to learn more about this common disease? Here is how to know if you need gum disease therapy in The Colony.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the tissues in the mouth that hold the teeth in place and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it affects one out of every two Americans age 30 and over.
Medically known as periodontal disease, it is caused by the bacteria in plaque, which can build up on teeth over time and eventually harden. Common symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Receding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Bite problems caused by changing teeth positioning
The 3 Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease typically progresses through three main stages, with each stage worse than the one before it. The stages of gum disease are:
- Stage 1: Gingivitis – Plaque buildup produces toxins, which in turn cause the gums to become inflamed. You may notice your gums bleed during daily brushing and flossing. Although gingivitis is quite common, damage can usually still be reversed if it is caught early.
- Stage 2: Periodontitis – The bones and fibers that hold teeth in place can be irreversibly damaged. Patients with periodontitis may also develop pockets below the gumline that trap food and plaque. Improved home care and professional dental treatment can prevent further damage.
- Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis – Actual loss in the bone that supports the teeth can occur and tooth extraction may be recommended to halt further infection. Teeth may also shift or loosen due to the loss of supporting bone, leading to bite problems.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
As illustrated above, gum disease can have serious negative impacts on your body. Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to help prevent gum disease from developing, such as:
- Quit smoking – Smoking tobacco is a major cause of gum disease and has been linked to a host of other oral and overall health problems.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene – Daily brushing and flossing can help remove plaque from teeth and prevent gum disease from developing.
- Regularly Visit Your Dentist – A dentist will be able to spot early signs of gum disease and recommend appropriate treatment. Moreover, only a professional cleaning can remove plaque that has hardened into tartar and contributes to gum disease.
Healthy gums are a key part of a healthy mouth. If you have noticed your gums bleeding when you brush your teeth, be sure to contact a dentist in The Colony right away.
About the Author
Dr. Austin Amos enjoys helping members of The Colony, TX achieve and maintain healthy teeth and gums. The Plano native regularly attends continuing education classes to keep up on the latest advances in dental techniques and technology. Patients concerned about the health of their gums can visit Dr. Amos’ website or call him at 972-625-4746.