What Does Gingivitis Look Like? And 4 More Questions About Gum Disease
Understanding Gum Disease
Gingivitis is among the most common oral health issues, but many patients don’t have a complete understanding of it. It can be difficult to spot the signs, especially at its early stages, and you may wonder what treatments are available if you think you may have gum disease.
Visiting your dentist is always the best course of action, and considering answers to these common questions about gum disease can help you understand more about this condition.
1. What does gingivitis look like?
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, which means that symptoms can be mild and difficult to notice unless you’re specifically looking for them. Keeping an eye out for these symptoms is vital, as early intervention provides the best methods for how to cure gingivitis.
Bad breath is the symptom most commonly associated with gingivitis. If you have persistent bad breath, gingivitis is the most likely culprit. The bacteria in your mouth that cause gum disease create a foul odor. As they grow in greater numbers, bad breath begins to occur.
Those bacteria also irritate your gums. At this early stage, you might only notice subtle changes. Discoloration is a common sign of gingivitis, especially darkening of the gums. You may also experience swollen, sore, or bleeding gums.
While some of these symptoms have other potential causes, they’re all good reasons to reach out to your dentist to find out exactly what’s wrong.
2. How is gingivitis treated?
Once identified, there are a variety of different methods for curing gingivitis. At the early stage, the condition is entirely reversible. Once you reach out to your dentist, they’ll work with you to find the underlying causes and address them to put a stop to gingivitis for good.
As plaque builds up beneath the gumline, it causes inflammation and allows bacteria to thrive. Routine teeth cleanings during your regular appointments help manage plaque, but you may need additional cleaning once gingivitis has taken hold. Deep cleaning addresses plaque below the gumline and bacteria developing in pockets.
In most cases, a lack of effective oral hygiene contributes to gingivitis. Establishing and sticking to the right oral hygiene routine can manage bacteria and prevent gingivitis. Flossing is essential here as well, and you might consider options such as a Waterpik.
Mouthwash is often recommended to deal with gingivitis as well. It can help reduce the level of bacteria in your mouth overall, but it isn’t a replacement for brushing and flossing. You can talk to your dentist about developing the right oral hygiene routine.
3. What is periodontitis?
Some of the most common questions about gum disease are related to its progression. Periodontitis is a more advanced stage of gum disease. If you don’t seek out treatment or intervention for your gingivitis, bacteria can continue to grow and spread, affecting the surrounding tissue.
At this stage, you can expect more serious symptoms. Swelling, soreness, and bleeding can increase in severity. You can also experience pain when chewing and loose teeth. Eventually, periodontitis weakens the bone tissue around tooth roots, leading to tooth loss.
4. What is a periodontal abscess?
Gingivitis and periodontitis can also lead to the formation of a periodontal abscess. This is a pocket of pus that forms in your gums and can grow to affect the surrounding tissue. It is similar to an abscessed tooth, except that the abscess initially forms in the gum tissue, rather than tooth pulp.
A periodontal abscess can cause significant pain, especially while chewing. It can also cause further symptoms related to infection. You can experience fever and swollen lymph nodes in your neck or jaw. A periodontal abscess requires immediate treatment, so reach out to your dentist about any of those symptoms.
5. Can you reverse periodontal disease naturally?
Once periodontal disease goes past the point of gingivitis, it isn’t possible to manage it with improved oral hygiene alone. You will need treatment from your dentist to eliminate periodontal disease and restore any damage that it has already done.
Depending on the severity of your case, your gum disease recovery could require deep cleaning, medication, or even gum surgery. The best course of action for periodontal disease is prevention. Keep up with a solid oral hygiene routine, see your dentist for routine checkups and cleanings, and reach out if you notice any signs of gum disease.
Don’t hesitate to act on gingivitis.
If you’re experiencing any signs of gum disease, such as bad breath (halitosis) or bleeding gums, you should contact Berrien Dental today. Seeking out treatment is the most effective way to prevent gingivitis from progressing.
Our compassionate, knowledgeable team is your St. Joseph or Berrien Springs dental office for all of your dental treatment needs. We provide effective interventions that help you avoid and manage gum disease for the best oral health outcomes. Schedule an appointment today to learn more about your options.