Recognizing the Early Signs of Gum Disease

If you’d prefer not to lose teeth as you age, understanding the early signs of gum disease is important. The leading cause of tooth loss in adults, gum disease involves inflammation of your gum tissue that can lead to infections and significant damage.

The key to avoiding these complications is addressing it in its early stages — or preventing it altogether. The expert team at Union Square Dental in the Flatiron District in New York City is pleased to provide exceptional care to prevent, diagnose, and treat gum disease in all of its stages. Here, we describe the signs to look out for.

Gum disease 101

Gum disease is very common, affecting over 50% of adults over age 30 in the United States. And it grows more likely with increasing age. It happens when harmful bacteria accumulates around your teeth and gums. When food film gets trapped, it can form a sticky substance that’s difficult to wash away on your own, known as plaque. This plaque attracts disease-causing bacteria.

If plaque stays in place, it can easily turn into a harder substance called tartar. Tartar is even tougher to do away with and removal usually requires a special dental tool. Once tartar has formed, more bacteria makes its way into your gum tissue. All of these happenings can fuel inflammation and infection.

And gum inflammation indicates gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.

Early signs of gum disease

Gum disease happens in stages, starting with milder symptoms that can worsen over time. The first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, causes:

If these early signs of gum disease go untreated, you can develop periodontitis.

Advanced signs of gum disease

With periodontitis, your gums are likely to be significantly swollen, more painful, and bleed more often. Receding gums is also common, as infection and inflammation move deeper into your gums, potentially to the roots of your teeth. Once this happens, you run the risk of tooth loss.

What to do about gum disease

The best way to prevent and address gum disease is by scheduling routine dental exams and cleanings. At these appointments, your dentist can check for any signs you haven’t noticed, provide any needed deep cleanings to help reverse these signs, and recommend treatment or changes in your oral hygiene habits.

Advanced gum disease is often treated through a process known as scaling and root planing –– a deep cleaning that removes plaque and tartar buildup and smooths the surfaces of your teeth to prevent more bacterial buildup.

At Union Square Dental, we also offer laser treatments for gum disease. Your dentist  uses a soft tissue laser to do away with the growing biofilm in your mouth and help prompt your gum tissue to reattach to your teeth, closing gaps where bacteria can hide and thrive.

To learn more about gum disease or to get the treatment you need, call our office or send us a secure message through our website to book an appointment.

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