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Recognizing the Early Signs of Gum Disease

Nearly half of all American adults over age 30 have some form of gum disease, and for those 65 and older, that number jumps to almost three-quarters. Considering gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults, those are some really concerning numbers.

The key to battling gum disease successfully is catching it in its early stages, before it has a chance to cause serious damage to your gums and teeth. At Novi Family Dentistry, in Novi, Michigan, Abir Faraj, DDS, and her team offer comprehensive care for gum disease. They use advanced techniques to diagnose and treat gum disease, no matter what stage it’s in. Here’s what you should know about gum disease, including how to spot it early.

The basics of gum disease

Your mouth is full of bacteria. Some of it is good, and some of it is not so good. Brushing and flossing help keep the bad bacteria under control. But, even with good at-home hygiene, food film can build up between your teeth and gums and form sticky deposits called plaque. 

Plaque provides a good home for many disease-causing bacteria, which thrive on sugars from the foods you eat. Unless plaque is removed regularly, it can harden and turn into tartar. Tartar is really hard — so hard, in fact, that your dentist needs special tools to remove it. It also provides an almost impermeable shelter for bad bacteria.

Once tartar forms, it’s only a matter of time before bacteria start invading your gums, moving down teeth and hiding beneath the gums where they can cause more inflammation and even infection. Eventually, the bacteria can travel all the way down to the roots of your teeth and cause abscesses to form, which, in turn, can weaken the roots and lead to tooth loss.

Dr. Faraj offers treatments for all stages of gum disease, including the early stage — which is called gingivitis — and the later stage — which is called periodontitis. The best option is to catch gum disease early, when treatment is a lot simpler.

Signs of gum disease

Unless you’re a dental professional, gum disease can be very difficult to identify in its early stages. That’s because in those early days, gum disease typically doesn’t cause any major symptoms.

Stage 1: Gingivitis

The most common symptom to look for in this first stage of gum disease is bleeding when you floss or brush. Early on, inflammation begins, making your gums more tender than usual and more prone to bleeding. Your gums might look a little puffy, too.

Stage 2: Periodontitis

In the later stages, pain, significant swelling, and gum recession, can occur. This is because infection and inflammation can spread to deeper areas of gum tissue and even to the tooth roots.

Protect your smile by protecting your gums

Because early symptoms can be difficult to spot on your own, having regular checkups is very important for your gum health. During a checkup, Dr. Faraj and the hygienist look for early signs of disease and areas of plaque and tartar buildup.

If early gum disease is present, it can usually be treated by a regular cleaning to remove plaque and tartar. In more advanced stages of the disease, you might need a deeper cleaning and antibiotics to kill germs around the deeper parts of your teeth and roots.

Don’t let gum disease rob you of your beautiful smile. Having regular cleanings and checkups is the best way to spot and treat gum disease early. To schedule your checkup, book an appointment online or over the phone with Novi Family Dentistry today.

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