5 Signs of Gum Disease and What to Do Next

Jun 26, 2024
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Since gum disease is one of the leading culprits behind tooth loss and poor dental health, it pays to stay one step ahead of it. A great way to do that is to recognize the early signs, which we review here.

Once your permanent teeth come in, they’re designed to last a lifetime, but life can have different plans if you're not paying attention. In the United States, about 178 million people are missing at least one tooth and 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth.

If you’re wondering what’s driving these surprisingly large numbers, we’re here to tell you that gum disease accounts for more than its fair share. And the numbers to back this up are equally as eye-opening — 40% of adults aged 30 and older in the US have some degree of gum disease.

Dr. Juliet Ebrahimian and the team here at Silverlake Smiles understand all too well how gum disease, which is also called periodontitis, can quickly wreak havoc on your dental health. There is some good news when it comes to gum disease, however — it’s entirely reversible if we catch it early.

So, with that in mind, we want to review a few early signs that point toward gum disease and what we can do to restore the health of your gums, long before you get to the point of tooth loss.

1. Swollen gums

The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, which describes inflammation around the edges of your gums. This is an early warning flag that harmful bacteria are gathering in plaque and tartar deposits around your gumline, and they’re looking for a way underneath.

2. Bleeding when brushing or flossing

When your gums are slightly inflamed, they’re more vulnerable to bleeding. This bleeding often occurs when you brush or floss your teeth, and you can see the blood when you rinse and spit afterward.

3. Sensitive, sore, and red gums

During the early stages of gum disease, your gums may be more sore and sensitive than usual. They may also appear redder than normal.

4. Bad breath

As bacteria eat away at the soft and hard tissues in your mouth, they release gasses that can sour your breath.

5. Gum recession

Another hallmark of early periodontitis is recession in your gums as the bacteria erode the soft tissues around your gumline.

These are just the early signs of gum disease. As this condition progresses, the symptoms above become more severe and your teeth can start to loosen.

Reversing your gum disease

As we pointed out, gum disease is reversible if we catch it early. If we see signs of gingivitis during your dental exam or suspect that gum disease might be brewing, a thorough cleaning with our hygienist is often all it takes to clear away the bacteria from around your gums.

If bacteria have made their way underneath your gums, we may have to conduct a deeper cleaning, during which we eliminate pockets in your gums where bacteria are setting up shop. This is called a root planing and scaling procedure, and it also encourages your gums to reseal over your teeth.

These early interventions are highly effective in stopping gum disease in its tracks, and they’re a lot easier than trying to treat advanced gum disease, which can involve oral surgery.

If you’d like to keep your gums in the pink of health, now and in the future, we invite you to set up an appointment at our Los Angeles office. We serve the Silver Lake neighborhood and areas of Los Feliz, Atwater Village, Frogtown, and Echo Park.