Iceberg Appearance vs Reality

Why Dentistry Is Like an Iceberg

When people think about their dental health, they think about their teeth. Do they have cavities? Are their teeth stained? In short, most people think only about what they can see and feel in their mouths. They assume that if all looks and feels fine, their oral health must be good. This simply isn’t the case, though—teeth are like icebergs and the portion that we see is only a small fraction of the full tooth structure. There can be a lot wrong with a tooth and its supporting structures below the surface.

Most general dentists deal primarily with the tooth above the gumline. A periodontist is a dental specialist that deals with the issues that aren’t visible to the naked eye. We care for your gums, root structure, and the jawbone that supports your teeth.

Even if your teeth look good, you may need periodontal care. These four symptoms indicate that there might be trouble brewing below the surface of your teeth.

Painful, Swollen, and Red Gums

Gingivitis is a precursor to gum disease. Put simply, gingivitis is inflammation of the gums. Healthy gums are pink, firm, and even. Gums with gingivitis are red or purple, sore, and swollen. While there are some circumstances in which gingivitis is temporary, like during pregnancy, in most cases you can expect that untreated gingivitis will lead to full-blown gum disease. It’s important to get prompt treatment to stop the progression of periodontitis.

Bleeding Gums

When your swollen, red gums begin to bleed when you floss or brush, it’s a sign of gingivitis. Gingivitis in turn can potentially progress quietly into Periodontitis (bone and support loss around your teeth). We all have the occasional slip of the hand while flossing that causes a bit of bleeding, but if your gums are bleeding on a regular basis, you should seek treatment. In addition to bleeding, there may also be whitish oozing of pus along the gumline. Infection issues can also be seen with the recession of the gums exposing the roots of the teeth. Infrequently at first and then more regular gum abscesses can occur further indicating active infection.

Bad Breath

Another symptom of gum disease is bad breath. People can have bad breath without it necessarily being gum disease. But often bad breath is a strong sign that gum disease is present. Often there is an unpleasant taste in your mouth, which is a common indicator of bad breath. The foul taste and odor can be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in and around the gums.

Loose Teeth

As your gums recede or gaps occur between your gum and tooth from gum disease, you may begin to notice that your teeth feel slightly loose. When gums detach from the teeth, pockets form where bacteria and plaque collect. Very quickly, these pockets can no longer be cleaned by you alone even with excellent flossing and brushing and require professional intervention. Without treatment for gum disease, the bacteria in these pockets will continue to infect and break down the supporting structures that keep your teeth in place. The result is teeth that loosen, shift in your mouth, and eventually fall out.

Make an Appointment Today

Just like the iceberg that brought down the Titanic, what’s lurking beneath the surface of your teeth can be disastrous for your dental health. This is why it’s critical to pay attention to all aspects of your oral health, not just the parts you can see. If you have concerns about your gums and would like to schedule a periodontal evaluation, contact us today to make an appointment.