When most Americans consider their smiles, they think about the shade of their teeth. It’s really no big secret: just check your local grocery store. Up and down the aisle of mouth care are dozens of products from mouthwash to toothpaste that contain whitening chemicals like peroxide. While the shade of our teeth is important for our self-esteem, there is much more to think about concerning the mouth. Gingivitis, and later gum disease, is not only the leading cause of tooth loss, it can also seriously affect your overall health. Infecting nearly 64.7 million mouths in America, according to the CDC, gum disease has been linked to dementia, heart disease, and other more serious conditions.

So the next time you’re in front of the mirror, checking out your smile, make sure you know the signs and symptoms of gum disease to look out for your mind and teeth.

Group of middle aged woman enjoying eachothers company at a party. Each makes sure they schedule regular checkups to prevent gum disease.

The First Sign: Red and Irritated Gums

In the early stages of gum disease, plaque begins to build up on your teeth and gums. When enough plaque collects around these areas, it begins to cause the gums to swell, becoming red and inflamed. Known as inflammation, this is an automatic immune system response meant to stop infection. This early stage is known as gingivitis, and is considered an early stage of gum disease. When gingivitis is left untreated, however, it can begin to advance into periodontitis or more advanced gum disease. During the more advanced stages of periodontal disease, toxins produced by the bacteria surrounding teeth begin to break down enamel, bone, and the inner layer of the gum tissue, which can destroy the ‘anchor’ which keeps teeth in place.

Later Signs: Bad Breath and/or a “Bad Taste”

If gingivitis is left untreated, patients can begin to develop a “bad taste” in their mouth as a result of bacteria breaking down teeth and bone. This can also take the form of continual bad breath or halitosis. When gum disease has reached this point, it is already beginning to cause serious damage to your gums and teeth. You might notice receding gums. Your teeth can seem to get longer, but teeth don’t grow later in life. It is your gums pulling away from your teeth that makes them look longer. Teeth might be more sensitive to temperature because the roots are more exposed. Your teeth might even feel loose and can move.

Treatment at this point could involve a combination of special dental cleanings, or even laser gum treatment. If you’ve experienced any recent bad breath, you’ll want to schedule a consultation as soon as possible. 

The 3 Ways to Prevent Gum Disease

Preventing gum disease is fairly simple, and really only requires three steps: brushing, flossing, and regularly visiting the dentist for cleanings and checkups. The American Dental Association suggests brushing your teeth twice a day. Once in the morning, and once before going to be. This will clear your mouth of food debris and making it more difficult for harmful bacteria to grow. Flossing does much the same thing except that it reaches places a toothbrush can’t. Skipping out on flossing can be a big mistake, as it allows you to dip below the gum line to clear out debris.

If you haven’t visited the dentist yet for your bi-annual cleaning, it’s time to schedule that appointment. Dental cleanings are a great way to catch gum disease before it becomes advanced enough to cause serious damage.

For gum disease diagnosis and gum treatment in Rockland County, call our dental office in West Nyack at (845) 627-7645 to schedule an appointment with our dentist Dr. Dunayer. You can also request an appointment online for more convenience.