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Gum Disease

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers!

Q: What is gum disease?

A: In it’s simplest terms, gum disease is an infection in your mouth. It can range from a minor infection, on the scale of a canker sore, to a severe infection that affects your whole body. The technical term for gum disease is periodontal disease, though some people call it pyria, but since this isn’t a text book we’ll just call it gum disease here.

Q: What are the symptoms of gum disease?

A: Gum disease in it’s early stages is a silent disease. In fact, you may not even know you have gum disease until your dental hygienist mentions it during a routine cleaning. If left unchecked the infection will continue to worsen and become symptomatic.

Common symptoms are:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Blood on your toothbrush after brushing your teeth (psst…that’s not o.k.)
  • Bad Breath – Yikes! This isn’t the kind of bad breath a mint, quick rinse with mouth wash, or regular brushing will clear up. We’re sorry to say the smell is coming from the infection that’s lurking beneath your gum line.
  • Tooth sensitivity – The newly exposed areas of the tooth can be quite sensitive.

Q: What can happen from gum disease?

A: It’s all bad news, sorry.

  • Gum recession – As the infection progresses the gums pull away from the tooth and start to recede. Once the gum recedes it will never reattach on it’s own, even after the infection is cleared up.
  • Bone Loss – Chronic gum disease eventually affects the jaw or cranial bone it covers and causes the bone to break down. In some cases the dentist can do a bone graft to help build up and replace lost bone, but bone grafts aren’t always successful or sometimes only have marginal improvement so it’s best not to let the gum disease get that far.
  • Tooth Loss – Without the support of healthy gums and bone the teeth eventually become loose and fall out. To make matters worse, tooth loss due to gum disease will mean you’re probably not a good candidate for a dental implant (because there won’t be good, strong, healthy bone to anchor the implant into).
  • Increased risk for cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke. Research shows a connection between periodontal disease (gum disease) and cardiovascular disease. You’re welcome to read a tidy summary of current findings on WebMD.
  • Additionally, diabetics are especially susceptible to complications of gum disease, and studies have shown that management of gum disease in diabetics can improve patient blood sugars.

That’s all pretty awful stuff. We’d really rather you never have to go down that road, or if you have, give us a call and let our gentle and friendly dental hygienists and dentists get you on the road to oral health. Did we mention our hygienists are gentle? You’re gonna love them, we promise!

Q: Ok, I know gum disease can cause sore gums, but is there anything else that can cause sore or bleeding gums?

A: Yes, there are a few other things that could be causing you gum trouble.

  • Trauma caused by brushing your teeth too hard or cutting your gums accidentally with dental floss. (Please buy toothbrushes with the extra soft bristles and don’t scrub your teeth with a vengeance).
  • Food or other particles stuck between the tooth and gum (Popcorn hulls are a common culprit)
  • Hormonal changes due to menstruation or pregnancy
  • Smoking and tobacco products

Cures or Treatments for Sore Gums

  • Gently floss to be sure there is no food or other item stuck between the teeth or in the gums. (Popcorn hulls are a common culprit for this type of sore gums).
  • Swish and rinse your mouth with lukewarm saline solution (spit the saline out after rinsing, don’t swallow it). See recipe for homemade saline solution below. Swishing with hydrogen peroxide is a common home remedy for gum disease, but it won’t cure periodontal disease.
  • Be a little more gentle when brushing your teeth in the affected area for the next few days. If your sore gums were caused by using a toothbrush with very stiff bristles or brushing too hard the soreness should go away in three to four days.
  • If you continue to have swollen and sore gums for more than one week please call the office to schedule and examination to determine what the problem is. If your sore swollen gums are caused by gum disease it is important to treat it as soon as possible.
  • Ask one of our doctors to prescribe you a prescription mouthwash called Peridex. It is a special mouthwash for people with gum disease that helps kill the infection and with proper hygiene will help keep it from coming back. We consider it the best mouthwash for gum disease patients.

Homemade Saline Solution Recipe:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1-2 tsp. salt
  • Mix the salt and water until salt is dissolved.