You’ve heard of gum disease. If you notice blood on your toothbrush when you brush your teeth, you could have the early stages of gum disease. Left untreated, it’s no picnic; it can have serious health consequences.
Dr. Leslie Castillo, DMD, with K Street Dental & Orthodontic Group, is ready to be your professional partner in your dental health. She explains the importance of gum health and how it can impact your overall general health if problems aren’t treated.
The following is important information on gum disease, including recognizing it and why this is a condition to promptly treat.
Gingivitis: Early gum disease
Are your gums sore when you brush your teeth? You may have gingivitis, inflammation in your gums. It’s a sign of early gum disease.
Gingivitis is usually the result of inconsistent oral hygiene. Perhaps you’ve skipped flossing, or perhaps you rush out the door after breakfast and forget to brush.
Plaque, a sticky mix of bacteria from the food you’ve eaten and bacteria already present in your mouth, coats your teeth when you don’t clean them. If you don’t brush the plaque away daily, it begins to harden after 48 hours. In a few days, you won’t be able to remove it yourself, as it turns into a substance called tartar.
The tartar forms not only on your teeth but also under the gums. It shields the bacteria and keeps it lodged against your gums. The tartar creates irritation and inflammation in your gums at the base of your teeth (called the gingiva). That’s why your gums look red, and they may bleed.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, the condition may progress to periodontitis, a bacterial infection that traps even more food particles in pockets in your gum. Eventually, your gums can no longer hold your teeth in place. You begin to lose teeth.
Early signs of gum disease
If you have any of these symptoms, call K Street Dental & Orthodontic Group for an appointment.
- Receding gums — more of your tooth is showing now than in the past
- Gums that bleed when you brush or floss
- Sore, tender gums
- Constant bad breath
- Gum that has loosened from the tooth
- Drainage coming from around the gum
Risk factors for gingivitis
Gingivitis is relatively common. It’s imperative to remedy before the condition becomes a severe infection. Bacteria in the gums from periodontitis can travel in the bloodstream to other organs; periodontitis is linked to heart disease and sepsis.
The following are risk factors for gingivitis. If you’re in one of these groups, monitor your gum health closely.
- Genetics — if close relatives have gum disease
- Inconsistent oral hygiene
- Smoking/chewing tobacco
- Advanced age
- Dry mouth
- Crooked teeth that are hard to clean
- Immune system compromised
- Pregnancy or use of birth control pills
Use proper dental hygiene and get regular dental checkups
Pledge to develop consistent and thorough dental hygiene. One dental adage says, “The only teeth you don’t floss are the ones you want to lose.” Prevention is the best cure.
- Brush at least twice daily
- Floss daily, ideally after meals
- Use a mouth rinse to reduce plaque buildup
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Come to see us for checkups twice a year
- Avoid tobacco products such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco
If you have gingivitis, Dr. Castillo may need to do a “deep clean” called scaling and root planing to eliminate the buildup of tartar on your teeth and below the gums. This helps prevent periodontitis.
If you’re suffering from any gingivitis symptoms, call K Street Dental & Orthodontic Group or book an appointment online today.