Healthy gums are not difficult to obtain. According to the Center for Disease Control, nearly 50% of Americans have gum disease. This is incredible. Most people have heard the term gingivitis but many do not know what it really means or why it is dangerous. Our blog serves as an educational tool for all things dentistry. Today we would like to remove the clouds around the topic of gum disease and give readers some tools to evaluate the health of their gum tissues. We hope you enjoy and learn something!
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissues. Plaque is the main contributor to gingivitis but there are other contributing factors such as calculus (tartar). The body essentially views this buildup as a foreign invader and launches an immune response. The immune system attempts to overcome the problem but fails. This failure leads to chronic inflammation.
Gingivitis is for the most part reversible. When the factors creating gingivitis are removed, the body can return to normal. When gingivitis is present and elimination of the causative factors is not completed, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Periodontitis has irreversible properties and can be disastrous for the gums, bone, and teeth.
Periodontitis is gum disease that has been neglected and as a result has destroyed the attachments that hold teeth in place. Gum tissue, ligaments, and bone can be destroyed. The teeth begin to mobilize and eventually are lost.
How to Tell if Your Gums are Healthy
Before we go further, it is important to note that gum disease can only be definitively diagnosed by a dental professional. The absence of these signs and symptoms can only suggest health and the presence of these signs and symptoms could indicate gum disease but could also be a myriad of other potential problems. Upon inspection, if you see any of the following indicators, we encourage you to visit your dentist or hygienist sooner rather than later.
Here are some of the signs and symptoms of gum disease;
- Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing. The bleeding gums could be due to a lack of health and presence of inflammation.
- Reddened gum tissue. Healthy tissue appears light to medium pink in appearance. Patients with gum disease often have a general reddening. Others have a red collar around the gum tissue where it meets the tooth.
- Persistent bad breath. Although there are many reasons for halitosis, bad breath often accompanies gingivitis or periodontitis.
- Gum sensitivity. Have you ever noticed that areas of the body that are inflamed can be painful to the touch? This occurs with gum disease as well.
- Mobile teeth can also be a sign of gum disease. This generally is a manifestation of advanced periodontitis.
- Although the presence of pus can be a sign of many other dental problems, it can also occur with advanced gum disease. Any sign of pus should indicate an immediate dental visit.
If you live in Orange Park or surrounding communities and have specific questions or would like to schedule a consultation, we encourage you to contact us any time electronically or call us at (904)602-8396.