Oral health is more complex than it may seem. That’s because your tooth structure actually resembles an iceberg. What you see when you smile in the mirror is only the top portion of the structure. General dentists work above the water line—on the visible portion of your teeth above the gums. Periodontists are responsible for the areas below the water line—the gums, tooth roots, and bone tissues that are not visible. Here are 4 indicators that you may have periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, even if the visible parts of your teeth look healthy.
Red, Swollen, or Sore Gums
Healthy gums have a pink or coral color, and they are firm and even all the way across. Gums that are red or swollen often indicate the first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. They may be tender or feel painful to the touch. If you notice your gums receding, your periodontal disease may be worsening. See the dentist immediately to avoid the risk of losing teeth.
Bleeding or Pus-Filled Gums
A very common sign of gingivitis is bleeding when brushing or flossing, or even while chewing crunchy foods. You may notice small swollen areas along your gums that are filled with pus. As gum disease progresses, these can turn into extremely painful abscesses.
Though bad breath can have many causes, persistent bad breath is often a sign of periodontal disease. You may also notice a constant bad taste in your mouth that you cannot get rid of with mouthwash or breath mints. Most causes of bad breath are highly treatable, so see your dentist even if you are sure you don’t have gum disease.
In late-stage gum disease, the gums may detach from the teeth. This leaves behind pockets where bacteria can attack the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth. Your teeth may visibly shift or feel loose to the touch. Take immediate action, as you are at high risk for imminent tooth loss.
Because all these symptoms occur below the gum line, it is easy to understand dentistry as an iceberg. Though your teeth might seem healthy above the water line, you could have hidden problems that are not readily visible. Periodontists focus on the structures below the water line, ensuring that they are as healthy and functional as possible.
Over time, periodontal disease can destroy your teeth and even put you at risk for heart disease and systemic infections. Fortunately, it can be stopped and even reversed with proper treatment and a regular periodontal maintenance program. Whatever symptoms you are experiencing, it is not too late. Your periodontist will explain the steps you need to take for a healthier smile.
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Holzinger Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is a father-daughter practice serving patients in Middletown and New Britain, CT. If you are seeking compassionate dental care from a team that treats each patient as an individual, contact us today at 860-347-8457 (Middletown) or 860-224-0433 (New Britain) to schedule your first appointment.