Gum disease is often earmarked by chronic signs of bleeding gums, puffy gingival tissue, recession (long teeth), and bad breath. But what if your gums look completely healthy?
Yes, it’s possible to have periodontal disease even though your gum tissues appear inflammation-free and don’t bleed when you floss. In fact, these types of gum infections often go overlooked because the individual affected can’t tell that anything is wrong…until their teeth start to feel loose or are at risk of falling out.
Smoking and Periodontal Disease
Tobacco use — particularly smoking — is known for its ability to mask gum disease symptoms. Since inhaling the nicotine and other tobacco byproducts causes a physical atrophy inside of the blood vessels that feed your gum tissues, your gingiva naturally do not swell or bleed even if they’re infected. The result is an environment that seemingly appears healthy but underneath the tissues is not.
During an exam, smokers with periodontal disease will present with deep “gum pockets” and visible bone loss on their X-rays, even if the tissues themselves seem to be free of inflammation. This anomaly makes it difficult for people who smoke to realize there’s a problem with their gum tissues, especially if they tend to be good brushers.
People with anemia may see differences in their gum tissues. For some, their gums lack the redness associated with periodontal disease, due to a low level of red blood cells. At the same time, their gums may bleed easily every time they brush and floss, even if they do not have chronic gum disease.
The catch-22 with anemia can make it challenging to routinely monitor the health of your gum tissues, especially when symptoms may overlap one another or not be symptoms of gum disease at all.
Schedule a Gum Exam at Least Once Per Year
One of the reasons periodontal screenings are recommended each year is to catch infections in their earliest stages. That way early intervention can prevent unnecessary bone and tooth loss.
Periodontal exams consist of measuring gum attachment levels at several points on each tooth throughout your mouth. We’ll also use diagnostic X-rays to assess the amount of bone throughout your mouth, pinpointing any visible areas of resorption (bone shrinkage).
Routine screenings allow you to intercept gum disease as early as possible. If you’re not sure when the last periodontal exam was, be sure to ask your dentist. Or if you suspect that you already have signs of moderate to severe gum disease, you owe it to your smile to schedule a visit with our periodontal specialist in The Woodlands. No referral is necessary.
Why Does Gum Health Matter?
Your gum tissues are crucial to supporting your teeth. Without healthy gingiva, tooth loss is inevitable. Be sure to let your dentist or our periodontist know if you have existing health conditions (like anemia or cancer) or use tobacco products. A thorough review of your individual health history will help us to better pinpoint your risk factors – and provide a higher quality of care.
Bleeding gums? History of tooth loss in your family? Call Dr. Kip Saunders today. We have two convenient locations in The Woodlands and Conroe to better serve the needs of our patients.