Gum disease is a serious problem for many people, but it can be tough to detect until it's in the later stages. Unfortunately, many people will find that their efforts to fix their gum disease at home are wasted. But how can you tell when gum disease is too far gone, and why is it that way?
There are two main forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is the milder form, which sometimes has next to no symptoms. Periodontitis, however, is when the problem becomes more serious in terms of symptoms, and the infection becomes chronic and severe.
Gum disease is essentially an infection of the gums from an excess of bacteria. The body can beat minor infections, like that of gingivitis, if it has enough support. However, worse infections often require help from a dentist, and periodontitis can't be treated at home.
Bacteria and Tartar
You may be wondering why a dentist can't simply give you antibiotics to beat this issue. While that can help to kill an infection in the gums, it won't treat the underlying problems that led to it, like the development and build-up of tartar. Tartar, the hardened form of plaque, irritates gums and can cause inflammation on top of what's already being caused by the bacterial infection. It also can't be cleaned away by anyone other than a dentist. Think of it as having an open wound with visible dirt or debris in it; an antibiotic can help, but until that wound is cleaned out and sealed up, it won't truly heal.
Unfortunately, bacteria and tartar often go hand-in-hand, with the tartar acting like a shield, keeping you from thoroughly cleaning under the gum line. While killing all the bacteria can help, without removing the tartar, the infection is likely to quickly return.
What to Do
If you're having noticeable symptoms of gum disease, the best thing you can do is go directly to a dentist. Chances are that if you're having problems like pain, swelling, or bleeding, you have periodontitis and can't help yourself at home.
However, if you still want to try, take a few days to take special care of your teeth and gums. Floss and brush twice a day or as recommended by your dentist, and use mouthwash afterward. This will help to remove plaque and kill bacteria that can cause gingivitis. If you see a noticeable improvement, you may have successfully stopped the gingivitis in its tracks. However, it's still advisable to see a dentist to ensure that the rest of your oral health is in good shape and to strip away any tartar that's beginning to develop.
If your gums don't seem better after a few days of careful care at home, it's time to get help. These extra steps may help to keep the situation from getting worse, but they can't reverse the damage that's already been done. Only a dentist can get your teeth and gums back on track at this point.
To learn more, contact a dentist in your area.