3 Signs of Unhealthy Gums

Grand Rapids Dentists

3 Signs of Unhealthy Gums

350 200 Grand Rapids MI Dentist

gum disease dentist grand rapids mi

Did you know that dentists aren’t just responsible for maintaining the health of your teeth, but also the health of your gums?

Your gums are the connective tissue that surrounds your teeth and holds them in place. Healthy gums are pink, pain-free, and aren’t overly sensitive to temperature or pressure. They stop at a scalloped line that typically follows the shape of your teeth.

But just like with your teeth, you need to practice good dental hygiene to keep your gums healthy. In addition to brushing and flossing, getting an oral exam every six months is crucial. By getting a regular exam, your dentist can check for signs of unhealthy gums and help prevent gum disease.

Only the most advanced forms of gum disease can’t be cured. Watch out for these three signs of unhealthy gums.

1. Plaque Buildup

You probably started the day with plaque on your teeth.

Plaque is a sticky layer of microbes that develops on your teeth. You may recognize it as the weird slickness or fuzziness you feel on your teeth before you brush in the morning. It’s usually colorless or a pale yellow color.

Waking up in the morning with plaque doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on your way to untreatable gum disease. It’s the buildup that poses a problem. The bacteria in plaque feed on carbs and sugars, and they release acids that can damage your teeth. Also, plaque can hide where you can’t see it — like in your gums.

If you don’t remove plaque from your teeth on a regular basis with brushing and flossing, then you’ll face a different problem: tartar.

2. Tartar

How can you remember the difference between plaque and tartar? It’s simple: Just remember that calculus is hard.

Tartar has a technical name that you might recognize from your high school nightmares: calculus. And just like that math class, dental calculus is hard. It consists of plaque mixed with the minerals found in your saliva, creating a yellowish substance that’s hard to get rid of.

At this stage, you may start to experience some irritation around your gumline. Home dental hygiene may help a bit, but you’re going to need to go to the dentist to remove all of the tartar/calculus from your teeth.

If you don’t seek dental care, then you’ll move onto the next stage: gingivitis.

3. Gingivitis

Plaque and tartar are signs that your gums aren’t as healthy as they could be. Gingivitis, on the other hand, is the earliest stage of gum disease. If you have gingivitis, then plaque and tartar will inflame your gums (also known as your gingiva), causing irritation, swelling, easy bleeding, and potentially tooth decay.

The good news is that even though gingivitis is technically gum disease, it’s still curable if you practice proper dental hygiene and see a dentist. Our dentists can put your gums back on track if you have gingivitis.

What If I Have Advanced Gum Disease?

If your gingivitis goes untreated, then you’ll advance to periodontal disease. At this stage, your gums will begin to recede from your teeth. Pockets typically will form around the teeth that can trap bacteria and result in pus. Your diseased gums may result in difficulty chewing, loose teeth, or other forms of tooth decay.

Although periodontal disease cannot be cured, it can be managed. Our dentists use scaling and root planing to manage advanced gum disease for our patients. These treatments clean the deep pockets in your gums, smooth your teeth’s roots, and ultimately encourage receding gums to reattach.

Get Your Six-Month Dental Exam

Brushing your teeth, flossing, and seeing a dentist every six months are the best ways to prevent gum disease. If you’re already showing signs of plaque buildup, tartar, or gingivitis, then seeing a dentist is critical. Our Grand Rapids, MI, dentists can professionally clean your teeth twice a year to maintain the health of both your teeth and your gums. Call GR Family Dental today at (616) 455-3020, or request an appointment online.