Gum infection starts from small issues, but can evolve into a much bigger problem if not treated promptly. In its early stages, gum infection has mild symptoms that can be ignored, but with time the infection and its symptoms become more pronounced. Soon, the infection becomes a supporting actor in a patient's nightmare as periodontal disease rears its ugly head.
Just because a person gets a gum infection is no reason to let things spin out of control. By identifying gum infection in its early stages, we can save ourselves from the stress of dealing with a severe infection that spreads to the teeth and the jaw. Here is how to spot gum infection and treat it.
Causes of gum infection
Harmful bacteria in the mouth are always looking to cause trouble. If left to multiply, the bacteria act on sugar and food particles in the mouth to create plaque. Plaque forms as a film that coats teeth surfaces. From within the plaque, bacteria begin to attack and infect the gum. The symptoms of the infection soon follow.
What gum infection looks and feels like
Now that the gums are under attack, it begins to weaken as damage to the gum's soft tissue continues. The symptoms of gum infection are:
- Tender, swollen gums that bleed easily
- Receding gums
- There may be white spots or plaque on the gum
- Persistent bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth
- Pain when chewing
- Dentures that no longer fit
- In severe cases, pus will be found in the pockets between the gums and teeth
Who is likely to get a gum infection?
Some people are more vulnerable to gum infections. Like with all diseases, there are risk factors for gum disease. Namely:
- Tobacco and excessive alcohol cause the gums to heal and fight infection more slowly
- People with overcrowded or crooked teeth are more likely to have plaque buildups that cause infection
- Dry mouth due to medication or mouth breathing leads to high levels of harmful bacteria
- Poor oral habits like overeating sugar or bad dental hygiene encourage the growth of plaque
- Health conditions like uncontrolled diabetes
How is gum infection diagnosed?
1. First, a dentist will visually examine the teeth and gums by checking the gums for swelling, tenderness or bleeding. They will also check the base of sensitive teeth for receding gums.
2. Next, the dentist will use a dental probe to measure the depth of the pockets between the gum and the teeth. Pockets that are more than three millimeters deep are a sure sign of gum disease and the deeper the pockets, the more severe the infection.
3. Lastly, the dentist will take an x-ray of the mouth to see if the infection has progressed to the jaw
Treating gum infections
How the infection is treated will depend on its severity. Mild gum disease will be dealt with by removing the cause of the infection. The dentist will clean the teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup. They will then prescribe oral or topical antiseptic treatments to kill the infection. The dentist will also order the patient to follow a strict dental hygiene regime.
Severe gum disease requires more intensive treatment. If the infection has progressed deep into the gum, the dentist will clean the part of the teeth covered by the gums. The cleaning is done by root planing or scaling.
Where the gum tissue has formed deep pockets, flap surgery is performed. Flap surgery is used to separate and pull back the gums from the teeth. The exposed tooth surfaces are cleaned, and the gum is stitched back into place. At this point, the dentist may reduce the size of the gum pockets.
An alternative non-invasive treatment uses lasers to kill bacteria and damaged tissue deep in the gum.
A mild case of gum infection can be treated at home with strict oral hygiene and anti-microbial mouth rinses. Salt water is a commonly used home-made antiseptic mouth rinse.
It is preventable
All we have to do to avoid gum disease is to prevent the conditions that encourage infection. For example, it is almost impossible for a person with good oral hygiene habits to get a gum infection.
For people who have conditions like diabetes and malocclusions, controlling or solving these conditions will help to prevent gum infection. But just to be sure, visit your dentist every couple of months as a way to prevent dental disease from happening.
Need a dentist?
Request an appointment in our Decatur dentist office here: https://www.anthony-dental.com.
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