Do I have gum disease?

Gum disease occurs in varying degrees of severity. In its mildest form it is called gingivitis. The infection is on the surface of the gum tissue, and does not affect the bone, or the ligament which connects the tooth to the bone. Even though the infection is only on the surface, the gums are still red inflamed and bleed easily.

Gingivitis is caused by ineffective or insufficient tooth brushing and flossing, it is also aggravated by even a small amount of tarter at the gum line. This tarter needs to be removed and is best done in the dental office by a dental hygienist. If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, or your breath has an odour, or you have bad tasting saliva, you probably have gum disease.

When the early stages of gingivitis are left untreated, it will progress into periodontitis. At this point your gums are definitely red, swollen, tender and the bleeding and smell are worse. This is caused by tarter build up below the gum line. More important is what is going on below the gums at this point. The structures which hold your teeth attached to your jaw bones is being attacked and destroyed, by the active infection. The bone and periodontal ligament is being eaten away. You will notice some of your teeth are getting loose and tender when you eat. Again this condition needs to be treated by a dentist and hygienist. When the condition is severe with a lot of bone loss, a dental specialist is needed – the specialist is a periodontist.

Medical research has shown that the toxins that enter your blood stream as a result of gum disease may eventually lead to an early and higher incidence of heart problems. People with healthy gums generally feel better, as a whole. Good breath and a bright smile are certainly worth the effort it takes to brush and floss properly. You dentist and staff are the best place to get coaching to help you learn how.