At our locations in Statesville and Hickory, North Carolina, Robert Scott Nance, DDS, MS, PA, and his team treat various outcomes of gum disease. Here, we delve into this common condition, including practical steps for reversing it.
How gum disease develops
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease occurs when your gum tissues become infected and inflamed. While genetics may play a role, this condition is usually linked with poor dental hygiene. When you brush or floss poorly or too infrequently, bacteria can form plaque buildup on your tooth enamel and at your gum line.
When that plaque, which is basically a sticky film, goes unaddressed, it calcifies into a more stubborn substance called tartar. And only professional dental tools work to do away with tartar.
Having even a small amount of plaque or tartar at your gum line sets the stage for the earliest stage of gum disease: gingivitis.
Signs of early gum disease
Gingivitis can present itself in a range of ways, including signs that may not be obvious to you right away. In many cases, your dentist detects gum disease during a routine dental cleaning.
Common symptoms to look out for include:
- A darkening color of your gums
- Gums that feel tender to the touch
- Gum pain when you brush or floss your teeth
- Bleeding when you brush or floss
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Persistent bad breath
You might also notice that your gums don’t fit as snugly around your teeth as they used to.
Addressing early-stage gum disease is important for staving off advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, and its related decay, tooth pain, and tooth loss — in addition to needing treatment for those complications. For instance, unaddressed gum disease can lead to the need for a root canal if a tooth becomes infected.
To turn your gingivitis symptoms around, our team may recommend:
- Getting a deep dental cleaning
- Improving your brushing and flossing habits
- Scheduling routine preventive care appointments
A professional dental cleaning for gingivitis often involves scaling and root planing. While scaling eliminates tartar on your enamel and beneath your gums, root planing smoothes your root surfaces to prevent more buildup.
At your next exam, we can also teach you more effective ways to brush and floss your teeth and recommend ideal products to keep gum disease at bay. You may benefit from switching to an electric toothbrush, for example, to prevent receding gums.
Avoid more serious oral health problems
Once gum disease progresses beyond gingivitis, periodontitis is a chronic and irreversible condition that requires more extensive and diligent care. To make sure you don’t get that far, call the office nearest you to schedule an appointment with Robert Scott Nance, DDS, MS, PA.