Gum disease starts with a build-up of a sticky film of bacteria on the teeth. It eventually hardens into calculus or tartar. Tartar can only be removed at your dentist with professional dental tools. When it isn’t removed, it can cause an infection in the gums.
Bleeding gums after brushing and flossing are some of the early signs of periodontal disease. As the disease progresses, symptoms can start showing up in the following forms:
- Swollen, red gums
- Pockets of pus forming around the gumline
- Teeth that look elongated because of gum recession
- Bad breath that doesn’t go away no matter how frequently you brush
- Loose teeth that seem to be shifting
- Tooth loss and tooth extraction
In its early stages, gum disease is called ‘gingivitis,’ and it can often be successfully treated by removing the build-up of tartar and a thorough cleaning of the teeth. Your dentist might recommend more frequent teeth cleans to keep the gingivitis from reoccurring.
More advanced gum disease, called ‘periodontitis,’ might involve a procedure called scaling and root planing to clean below the gumline.
It’s best to prevent periodontal disease from developing in the first place with good oral home care and biannual visits to the dentist for professional cleans. Poor oral hygiene and lifestyle habits such as smoking put people at a higher risk of developing the disease.
It should be noted that once the disease takes hold, it often cannot be reversed but only managed through regular deep cleanings.