Bleeding gums are not healthy. If you have gums that bleed easily, gums that are red, swollen or tender, or gums that have pulled away from the teeth, you likely have some level of periodontal disease. Other symptoms include bad breath, loose teeth, and changes in the way your teeth fit together. But sometimes there are no symptoms at all which is why it is important to have regular dental exams.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gum tissue that supports your teeth. The infection develops in the shallow v-shaped crevice (the sulcus) between the teeth and the gums. As the tissues are damaged, the sulcus develops into a pocket and the more severe the disease, the greater the depth of the pocket.
Gingivitis is a milder and reversible form of periodontal disease that only affects the gums. Left untreated, gingivitis may lead to more serious, destructive forms of periodontal disease called periodontitis in which you can lose your teeth.
There are a number of factors that may increase the risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- smoking or chewing tobacco
- diabetes and other systematic diseases
- medication such as oral contraceptives, steroids and those used to treat epilepsy and cancer
- bridges that no longer fit properly, crooked teeth, or fillings that have become defective
Treatment methods depend upon the type of disease and how far the condition has progressed. The goal of periodontal therapy is to help reset the body’s natural immune system, helping to fight off a growing colony of bacteria from dental plaque. Typically, we set up a series of professional cleaning appointments every 12 to 14 days to try and get ahead of the bacteria. These cleanings must be supported by at-home dental care.