Do your gums bleed when you brush? This is one of the most common signs of gum disease. Painful or bleeding gums can be an indicator of gum disease. Left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and other poor health conditions. This article will discuss gum disease and how you and your dentist can work together to treat it.

Symptoms and Signs of Gum Disease

Also called periodontitis, this condition has a number of symptoms to look out for. Please note that not everyone experiences all symptoms. Additionally, you can still have gum disease without experiencing these signs. Generally, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is a good indicator that your gum health is not as good as it should be.

  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Bleeding while you brush or floss
  • Loose-feeling teeth
  • Changes to your bite
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
  • Chronic bad breath

Gum Disease Diagnosis

When you go for a dental visit, your dentist will look for signs of gum disease. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the easier it will be to restore your gum health overall. During an appointment, your dentist will look at the following to help make a diagnosis.

Medical History

Your medical history can impact your dental hygiene in ways you may not expect. For example, many medications have a “dry mouth” side effect, which may affect your saliva production. Saliva is critical to your overall mouth health. It helps wash away food debris and plaque.

Dental X-Rays

Dental x-rays tell your dentist a lot about your mouth health. They can help your dentist investigate root damage to your teeth, and check for jaw damage as a result of gum disease.

Pocket Depth Measurements

During a dental exam, your dentist may perform a pocket depth measurement. This is where your dentist uses a periodontal probe to measure the pocket depths around each tooth. Your gum pocket generally should be between 1-3 mm. Generally, your gums should not bleed during this probing. Signs of bleeding or deeper pockets can indicate gum disease.

Stages of Gum Disease

There are 4 stages of gum disease. Your dentist can assess and categorize the extent of your condition by these stages.

Stage 1: Gingivitis

Diagram showing gum disease on a tooth. Inflammed gums from gum disease vs healthy toothGingivitis is mostly categorized by inflammation of your gums. Bacteria and plaque buildup lead to inflammation of the gums. The damage caused by this can deepen your gum pockets and damage the fibers supporting your teeth. This is the mildest stage of gum disease and does not involve bone or gum loss, With the right treatment and home care, it is completely reversible.
Treatment for Gingivitis starts at home. Better treatment of your teeth and gums through regular brushing and flossing is key. Brush twice a day, and floss once a day. Additionally, deep dental cleaning from your dentist will help reduce plaque and tartar buildup above and below the gum line.

Stage 2-3: Slight & Moderate Periodontal Disease

During these stages, your gum disease will have advanced deeper into your gums. Your gums will be redder, bleed more during brushing/flossing, and you will experience worse bad breath. Your gum pockets will be deeper, causing further damage to the teeth. During stage 3, the bacterial buildup is so deep in your gums that it can enter your bloodstream. This can lead to a weakened or compromised immune system. Additionally, it can raise your risk factors for other diseases. At this stage, dental treatment is necessary to reverse it.
In addition to the above treatment for Gingivitis, treatment for these stages includes scaling and root planing procedures. Scaling is a procedure for cleaning toxins out of your gum pockets. Root planing is a procedure where your dentist smooths the surfaces of your roots. This helps the gums reattach. Laser Periodontal Treatment is also an option. This is a non-invasive procedure where the dentist uses a laser to remove inflamed gum tissues from around the root. Then, they remove plaque and tartar buildup. This helps mitigate further infection.

Stage 4: Advanced Periodontal Disease

During Advanced Periodontal Disease, you are at the greatest risk of severe gum and tooth damage. Tooth loss is possible as a result. Chewing can become more difficult. You may experience abscesses around your gums, filled with pus. This is a reaction by your body to fight the extreme bacterial damage within the gums. During this stage, bone loss is much more advanced. If your gum disease gets this bad, your treatment plan will be focused on management, not reversal.
Stage 4 treatments may include surgical options. This may include Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure (LANAP). Laser surgeries like LANAP can be an incredibly effective method of treating gum tissues affected by Periodontal disease. Your dentist will be able to discuss what options may be best for you.

A Center for Dental Excellence does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
A Center for Dental Excellence provides expert dental care to the Brooklyn and Staten Island communities we serve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us or call the office you would like to visit. (718) 232-8289 for Brooklyn, and (718) 980-9555 for Staten Island.