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Gum Disease - When To Call a Doctor

Call a dentist if you have symptoms of gum disease, such as:

  • Loose teeth or teeth that have shifted, creating spaces between your teeth.
  • Pus coming from your gums.
  • Gums that have pulled away or receded from your teeth.
  • Bad breath that doesn't go away when you brush and floss.
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums.
  • Gums that bleed easily when brushed.

Watchful waiting

See your dentist regularly. If you have a history of dental problems, you may need to go two times a year. If you haven't gone to the dentist in the last year, make an appointment as soon as possible. A dental hygienist can remove plaque and scrape hard mineral deposits (tartar) from around your gum line. Regular checkups and cleanings will help you reverse and prevent further gum disease.

Recommended Related to Oral Health

Can I Change the Shape of My Teeth?

A: Yes, and to do so, you can choose from several dental procedures. Dental bonding is a procedure in which your dentist applies a tooth-colored resin to the tooth surface, which hardens with a special light that bonds the material to the tooth. Bonding can fill gaps between teeth, repair small chips, and smooth out rough edges. Dental crowns are tooth-shaped "caps" placed over teeth. Cemented into place, crowns encase the entire visible portion of a tooth. Crowns are made of porcelain,...

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If you have gum disease, see your dentist right away. Waiting to have it treated will allow it to get worse and spread.

Who to see

A dentist or dental hygienist can evaluate your gum disease.

If your gum disease is severe, the dentist may refer you to a specialist, such as:

  • A periodontist. A periodontist is a dentist with 2 to 3 years of extra training in diagnosing and treating gum problems.
  • An oral or maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in mouth surgery.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 05, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Answer:
Never
(0)
Good
(1-3)
Better
(4-6)
Best
(7)

You are currently

Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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