Gum disease progresses over time, and it's important for people to know the difference between the stages. While the early stages can be taken care of at home with tools like a toothbrush and floss, advanced stages can only be reversed and cared for by a dentist. If you're not sure whether the problems you're having with your gums mean that you have advanced gum disease or not, take a look at this list and see if it matches up with your symptoms.
Bad infections tend to smell, and gums afflicted with gum disease are no different. As gums get sicker from gum disease, bacteria grows in higher quantities. These bacteria can produce foul smells when they break down healthy tissue or consume the sugar and carbs you eat on a regular basis.
The easiest way to tell the difference between standard poor breath and bad breath generated by your gum health is whether or not it ever goes away. Since bacteria are to blame for gum disease and the smell associated with it, the smell sometimes goes away after using an antibacterial mouthwash or performing a very thorough brushing and flossing. If it comes back soon after — even without eating or drinking anything else — it's likely gum disease. Once the bacteria comes back, so does the smell.
Bleeding That Doesn't Stop
Gums can bleed at multiple stages of gum disease, so it's not necessarily a sign that yours are in an advanced stage. However, if you improve your at-home dental hygiene after the bleeding starts and it still won't stop, that probably means your gum disease is advanced.
When you have early-stage gum disease, sometimes flossing is enough to reverse it. Flossing clears away built-up plaque and bacteria that line the edges of the gums, and with enough time to heal, your gums will stop bleeding. However, if you have advanced gum disease, flossing can't do enough to fix it. Removing the plaque and bacteria may help you to experience slightly less pain, but the bleeding will continue until you seek medical attention.
Shape and Color
Finally, consider how your gums look. Healthy gums should be pink and are snug around the teeth, keeping bits of food and bacteria out. People with early stage gum disease may have slightly redder gums, as they're inflamed, and they may also look a little puffy. Late-stage gum disease, on the other hand, make gums look bright or dark red because of the severe infection. In addition, they may begin receding away from the teeth. This means that the seal around the tooth may be looser, and your teeth may appear longer because the gums are shrinking and pulling away from the part of the tooth they used to cover.
The easiest way to know if you have advanced gum disease is to simply stop by a dentist's office. Even if you have early-stage gum disease, your dentist can quickly fix it and get you back to full health without waiting days or even weeks to try and reverse it at home. Give your teeth and gums the attention they deserve and talk to a dentist like Tony Parsley, DMD about your symptoms today.