What are the signs of gum disease?
- Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, and tender
- Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
- Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
- Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from your teeth
- Teeth that have shifted or loosened
- Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Pus coming from between your teeth and gums
- Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
Who can get gum disease?
- While you can get gum disease at any age, it usually affects adults. After age 35, about three out of four adults have some kind of gum disease.
- Certain medical conditions or medications can make you more susceptible to gum disease. They include pregnancy, diabetes, epilepsy, and such medications as chemotherapy, birth control pills, antidepressants, and those for heart problems.
How do I know if I have gum disease?
- Only your dentist or hygienist can tell you if you have gum disease. That's one reason why it's so important to have regular dental checkups.
What can I do to help prevent receding gums?
- As you age, subtle changes happen to your body. These changes can include gums that recede. You know your gums are receding if your teeth look longer than in the past. While you cannot prevent gum recession, you can help prevent many of the conditions associated with it, including sensitive teeth and root cavities. Talk to your dentist and hygienist about which anti-sensitivity products are right for you. And use Colgate toothpaste, toothbrushes and floss daily to fight cavities.
What can I do to help prevent gum disease?
- Above all, develop good oral hygiene habits. Brush twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque from your teeth and gumline.
- Schedule regular dental checkups so that your dentist and hygienist can detect early signs of gum disease as well as clean away plaque and tartar.
- Eat right. Proper nutrition helps you maintain healthy gums and bones and fight infection.
- Avoid cigarettes and other types of tobacco.
- Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth. Pressure on the bone and fibers that support your teeth can make existing gum disease worse.
How is gum disease treated?
- Gingivitis (red, puffy gums) can often be reversed with proper brushing and flossing to remove plaque and debris.
- In the early stages of periodontitis, your dental professional can clean, or "scale," your teeth to remove plaque below the gumline. To help healing, tooth roots may also be "planed," or smoothed. Your dentist may also suggest an antibacterial prescription mouthrinse.
- More advanced stages of periodontitis may require surgery to help save the teeth.
Once gum disease is treated, can it return?
- Because bacteria cause gum disease, it can recur. However, with regular checkups and proper brushing and flossing, you can greatly reduce your risk of gum disease returning.