Gum Disease

Imagine every time you washed your hands you felt pain, or your fingers bled. What would you do? You’d probably be a bit concerned, maybe take a quick trip to the doctor, right? Well, if your gums bleed or hurt after brushing or flossing, don’t brush it under the rug (pun intended). Pain and bleeding from cleaning your teeth should not be normal. In fact, it could be a serious sign of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 50% of Americans have been diagnosed with gum disease, so though it may seem like something that would never affect you, it very well could. Let’s dive a little deeper into what gum disease is, the sign, symptoms, how to prevent it, and how to treat it!

What is Gum Disease?


Gum disease starts off as something called gingivitis. At this stage, it’s possible you won’t feel any pain or discomfort, or only mild levels. What you will notice is your gums are inflamed, red around the area where they meet the tooth, and yes, the bleeding after brushing or flossing that we mentioned earlier. Though gingivitis is only considered the ‘start’ to gum disease, it is important to take seriously as it needed to be treated as soon as possible. If gingivitis is ignored for too long, it will eventually lead to periodontitis where there are many more health concerns involved, including tooth loss.

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene, but contributing factors could also include diabetes, substance abuse, smoking, pregnancy, aging, genetic predisposition, and even hormonal fluctuations. When someone has one or more of these risk factors that may lead to gingivitis, or does not maintain a good oral hygiene routine, it encourages plaque to form on one’s teeth. Plaque is essentially a sticky layer of bacteria that is constantly being formed on your teeth. Plaque is soft and can therefore be removed easily by brushing your teeth and flossing, which should be done every day due the fact that plaque reforms so quickly. Plaque can cause bad breath and receding gums, but more importantly if not taken care of, it can turn into tartar. Tartar hardens under and around your gum line, harboring and protecting bacteria, and it cannot be removed simply by brushing, but requires a professional dental cleaning.


The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they will irritate the part of your gums around the base of your teeth called the gingiva, and cause inflammation. This is when you will really begin to notice your gums becoming swollen, bleeding more easily, and possibly even tooth decay from a bacterial infection. If not treated, this gingivitis will inevitably turn into periodontitis.

When you have a bacterial infection in your gums, it’s the body’s natural reaction to rid itself of the infection by eliminating bacteria. Our immune systems release a substance that causes the destruction of the gums. You will see the gums separating and forming pockets that become severely infected. These pockets deepen as the disease progresses and continue to destroy more and more bone and gum tissue. Though this sounds quite severe, the symptoms are not as visible as you may think, which is where additional problems can form as the disease goes untreated for longer and longer. Eventually if untreated, the teeth lose their strength and end up falling out or needing to be extracted.

Symptoms and Warning Signs

Though not everyone will experience signs and symptoms of gum disease, it’s still important to keep an eye out for these potential symptoms:

  • Swollen, red, tender gums.
  • Bleeding from brushing your teeth and/or flossing.
  • Receding gums, or gums that have begun pulling away from your teeth.
  • A persistent bad taste in your mouth and/or bad breath.
  • A change in your bite.
  • Teeth that are feeling loose.

Can I Prevent Gum Disease?

The great news is, yes, you have the ability to help prevent gum disease! The most important thing one must do to prevent periodontitis is to take preventative dentistry seriously. That means bi-annual dental checkups and creating good dental habits while at home. Here’s some of our top suggestions for maintaining good oral health at home:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. At a minimum! Brushing in between meals can also be helpful to remove food debris from those hard-to-reach places.
  • Don’t forget your tongue! Using your toothbrush or a tongue scraper will help to remove yucky bacteria that builds up on the surface of your tongue throughout the day.
  • Floss once a day. Along your gum line and between your teeth are the places hardest to reach with brushing, but most known for hiding plaque and food particles!
  • Rinse with a fluoride mouthwash. Mouthwash is a great way to not only reduce plaque, but to prevent it! Not to mention it’s a great way to rid your mouth of anything left over that may have been missed while brushing and flossing.
  • Educate yourself on the risks. As we mentioned, there are many factors that can lead to gum disease other than poor oral health. Learn the risks, and if you have an increased risk for gum disease, make sure you bring it up with your dentist!

Treating Gum Disease at the Best Spokane Dentist – Spokane Dental

Since opening in 2012, our team at Spokane Dental has been providing the best dental care in the Spokane area. We know trips to the dentist can be anxiety provoking, especially if you’re experiencing dental issues such as a concern over gum disease, but all of us here at Spokane Dental are here to help you through the anxiety while providing you with the best treatment and the utmost compassion. Gum disease is nothing to be ashamed of, but it is something to take seriously. Give us a call at (509)822-5614 or schedule an appointment for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation today!