Your Gums Might Be Trying To Hurt You

by Dr. Vareldzis

When it comes to going to the dentist, everyone thinks about their teeth. That’s what dentists deal with, right? They look at your teeth, clean your teeth, and fix your teeth. There’s truth to that, of course. At our Medford office, we help patients with dental implants, teeth whitening, and dentures, for example. But what are your teeth sitting in? Exactly, the gums.

Your gums are vital to your dental health. If your gums get sick, the teeth sitting there can get loose or even fall out entirely. Your gums might be trying to hurt you, but it’s not really their fault. It’s due to a nasty little problem called periodontal disease.

Why Don’t They Just Say Gum Disease?

“Periodontal” is a fancy word for gums, so periodontal disease is the same thing as gum disease. It’s when harmful bacteria infect your gums and start to spread unchecked. The milder form of periodontal disease is called gingivitis, but no matter what you call it, you can’t ignore it.

The CDC estimates that 47% of adults have periodontal disease. That means there’s probably a 50-50 chance of you having some kind of gum disease (and more if you include gingivitis). How can you tell? Because it’s a bacteria thing, it’s not always easy. That said, here are some periodontal disease symptoms:

    • Redness or tenderness in the gums
    • Swollen gums
    • Bleeding after you brush or floss
    • Bad breath that doesn’t go away
    • Receding gumline
    • Loose teeth
    • Pain when chewing

But like we said, sometimes periodontal disease is hard to spot. You could have gum disease without showing any signs.

How Periodontal Disease Leads To Big Problems

Right, here’s the gross part. If you don’t treat that gum disease, bad things will happen. Your gumline will start to recede, exposing more of your teeth to the world. That just looks bad. What’s worse? Getting pockets of empty space in your gums that can loosen your teeth and even make them fall out. Read that again: untreated gum disease can make you lose your teeth. All that bacteria infecting your gums thrive in those pockets, because small particles of food can get stuck there. It turns your mouth into a luxury hotel for bacteria, which is why you sometimes get really bad breath with gum disease. It can even deteriorate your jawbone.

And that’s just how it impacts your teeth! Studies have shown that people with gum disease are more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar, hence its connection to diabetes. And because the bacteria are inflaming the tissue in your mouth, there are studies showing a link between gum disease and heart disease. It can even increase your risk of pancreatic and kidney cancer.

See? Maybe your gums really are trying to hurt you.

Don’t Worry, We Have Treatments That Can Help

What is there to do? Plenty. Here are several treatments for periodontal disease.

    • The first thing is easy — call our dental office at 541-930-8036 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Vareldzis. The sooner we can see how widespread the disease has gotten, the easier it will be to treat.
    • Keep up with your regular brushing and flossing. Antibacterial mouthrinses can also help by getting rid of the bacteria that cause gum disease.
    • Prevention is key. If you have a missing tooth, for example, dental implants or dentures can fit the gap securely and help prevent bacteria from growing in the empty space.
    • Root planing and scaling are nonsurgical methods of deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar both above and below the gumline. This creates a clean, smooth surface that bacteria hate.
    • Believe it or not, lasers help! We can use a special dental laser to remove the infected gum tissue around the root of the tooth, which naturally grows back to its healthy state.
  • If the gum disease has gotten bad and deteriorated parts of the jawbone, Dr. Vareldzis can use bone grafts to fill in any deterioration, making your jaw strong again. This also comes in handy when you need a dental implant but the bone underneath is too weak.

What would work best for you depends on lots of factors. To schedule an appointment with our office in Medford, call us at 541-930-8036, or fill out this online form. Once we see what’s going on, we can work with you to find a treatment plan that fits your needs and budget.