Most people think about the health of the visible portions of their teeth. They worry about cavities and stains, and brush and floss diligently to avoid these issues. But much like an iceberg, the parts of the teeth we see are only a small fraction of the full tooth structure. Most general dentists deal primarily with the visible parts of the tooth—the part “above the water line,” if we’re continuing with the iceberg analogy. At Nowak Family Dental, we offer periodontal treatments, which work “below the waterline” to care for your gums, root structure, and other parts of the tooth that are not visible.
Your teeth may look fantastic, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need periodontal care. Here are four signs that you may have trouble below the surface.
Swollen, Red, and Painful Gums
Gums should always be pink, firm, and even. If, instead, your gums are red or even purple, tender to the touch, and swollen, you likely have gingivitis, a precursor to gum disease. Don’t take a wait-and-see approach with these symptoms—it’s unlikely that they will resolve on their own and, when left untreated, they can lead to full-blown periodontal disease and gum recession. When your gums begin to recede, a whole host of issues can result, ranging from tooth sensitivity to increased risk of decay.
Is it normal to bleed when you floss? No, never! Unless you injure yourself, you should not bleed while flossing, even when you floss all the way down to the gumline. Healthy gums are resilient, while unhealthy gums bleed at even the slightest bump—or for no reason at all. In addition to bleeding, you may find swollen pockets of pus along the gumline and even painful abscesses.
You can have bad breath and not have gum disease, but you can’t have gum disease without bad breath—the two go hand-in-hand. Some patients may not be sure if their breath is bad; if you’re uncertain, think about whether you often have a bad taste in your mouth. If you do, this is another sign of gum disease. Because gum disease is an infection, it leads to an overgrowth of bacteria in the mouth, which is what causes odor and foul tastes.
Do you ever feel like your teeth are ever-so-slightly loose? It might not be your mind playing tricks on you; it could be a sign of gum disease. When gum disease progresses, receding gums begin to detach from the teeth, forming pockets where plaque and bacteria collect. Because these areas cannot be reached by brushing, they can cause a great deal of damage in a relatively short amount of time, eventually breaking down the supporting structures that keep your teeth in place. Then, your teeth will begin to loosen, shift, and even fall out.
Just like with an iceberg, what’s lurking beneath the surface of your teeth can spell disaster, which is why it’s important to take care of all aspects of your oral health, not just the parts you can see. When you choose Nowak Family Dental, you can feel confident that we’re looking out for the health of your entire tooth and the surrounding bone and soft tissue.