How Can I Detect Gum Disease?

As you probably already know, a gum infection is a serious challenge to not only your oral health, but your general wellness, since periodontal bacteria can spread throughout your body. They significantly increase your risk for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and dementia.  Unless caught early and treated with general dental care, gum disease (periodontitis) will also lead to the loss of teeth, as these bacteria cause the gums to pull away from the teeth they support.

The early stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, is painless and can become more noticeable over time, which is why it is important to brush twice a day and floss before bedtime. Equally important to preventing serious problems is to have a professional cleaning by our dental hygienist and a full dental exam by Dr. Cluff at least twice a year.  

These are signs that you may have a gum infection that is advancing:

  • Bleeding after you brush or floss. With healthy gums, this should not happen, but when bacteria build up around the gum line they bleed easily.
  • Your teeth seem to be longer than a few years ago. This is probably due to gum recession, as the gums that are infected gradually recede from providing full support for teeth.
  • Teeth are more sensitive. Some people have naturally sensitive teeth and should use a designative toothpaste for that. But if you notice an increase in pain, than look closely and it may be due to the top of a root being exposed, which is the bottom of the tooth that is anchored in the jaw and normally covered by the gums.
  • Persistent bad breath. If you never noticed that your breath smelled bad and never had anyone complain, but now the odor won’t go away no matter how much you brush or use mouthwash, it could be due to a serious case of dental plaque. When periodontal bacteria first stick to teeth and are not brushed and flossed off, this turns into a filmy substance called plaque. Over time it can harden into tartar, which requires a hygienist to remove it with special tools, techniques, and anti-bacterial solutions.
  • Your bite seems different. If you feel a difference in the way your upper and lower arches are fitting together, the alignment may be off because one or more teeth are shifting due to less support from the gums or erosion of the jawbone that has become infected. If the latter, then a bone graft may be needed and if teeth have become loose, they may need to be extracted and replaced with dental implants or a dental bridge.

If any of these symptoms are occurring, immediately call Dr. Cluff for a full dental exam today and including a full cleaning by our hygienist.