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The Importance of Gum Health: Signs, Prevention, and Treatment

Gum disease treatment and management with Dr. Gauri Savant.

Many people take gum health for granted. While the cleanliness and color of teeth are often prioritized, gum health tends to be overlooked. However, the health of your gums can significantly impact your overall physical well-being. Maintaining healthy teeth is essential for a beautiful smile, but so is ensuring the overall health of your gums.

The Function of Gums

So, what is the exact function of your gums? Your gums are an incredible physical mechanism designed to protect your teeth and prevent diseases from developing in your mouth. Comprised of soft skin that covers the bones of your mouth and teeth, this tissue forms a tight seal around your teeth to keep them in place and provide a barrier against bacteria. Without proper gum care, bacteria and food particles can infiltrate your gums, potentially leading to gum disease.

Gum Disease and Its Impact on Health

The human mouth is a hive of bacteria – no matter how often you clean your teeth and gums, your mouth will always harbor bacteria. Much like the intestines, some of these bacteria are beneficial while others are harmful, collectively known as the oral microbiome.


Maintaining gum health is crucial to keeping a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth, thereby staving off periodontal disease. The development of periodontal disease is caused by the build-up of pathogenic bacteria in the gums, which incites an inflammatory response. Inflammation works to destroy gum tissue, a process exacerbated by pathogenic bacteria.

Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, can range from mild gingivitis to severe periodontitis. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment and prevention of more serious complications. Here are the key signs of gum disease to watch for:


  • Red, Swollen, or Tender Gums: Healthy gums are typically a light pink color and firm to the touch. If your gums are red, swollen, or tender, it is a common sign of inflammation and early-stage gum disease, known as gingivitis.
  • Bleeding Gums: Gums that bleed easily during brushing, flossing, or even eating hard foods are a significant indicator of gum disease. This bleeding is often due to inflammation caused by plaque build-up along the gum line.
  • Persistent Bad Breath: Chronic bad breath (halitosis) or a bad taste in the mouth can be a sign of gum disease. This is often caused by bacteria trapped in the gums and the presence of infection.
  • Receding Gums: If your gums are pulling away from your teeth, causing your teeth to appear longer than usual, this is a sign of gum recession, which is often associated with periodontitis. Receding gums can expose the roots of your teeth, leading to increased sensitivity and risk of decay.
  • Loose or Shifting Teeth: Gum disease can cause the supporting bone structure around your teeth to deteriorate, leading to loose or shifting teeth. This can affect your bite and how your teeth fit together.
  • Formation of Deep Pockets: Gum disease can cause the formation of deep pockets between your gums and teeth. These pockets are spaces where plaque, bacteria, and food particles can accumulate, further exacerbating the disease.
  • Pus Between Gums and Teeth: The presence of pus between your gums and teeth is a clear sign of infection. Pus indicates that your body is fighting an infection in the gum tissue, and immediate treatment is required.
  • Pain When Chewing: Discomfort or pain when chewing can be a sign of advanced gum disease. This pain may be caused by the loosening of teeth or infection in the gums and supporting bone structure.
  • Changes in Bite: If you notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite down, it could be due to shifting teeth or loss of supporting bone caused by gum disease.

Effects on Physical Health

The effects of periodontal disease can range from mild to severe, similar to other infections in the body. Periodontal disease can cause mild redness and swelling of the gums, known as gingivitis, or more severe destruction of the teeth and bone structure.


If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and the spread of bacteria throughout the body. Recent research has found that individuals suffering from periodontal disease are at a higher risk of developing conditions such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic respiratory disease
  • Dementia
  • Complications in pregnancy

The close association between these conditions and periodontal disease is due to inflammation, which plays a key role in the disease's cause and effect.

Nonsurgical Treatments

  • Professional Dental Cleaning: Regular dental cleaning involves the removal of plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline. It's a preventive measure recommended at least twice a year to maintain oral health and prevent gum disease progression.
  • Scaling and Root Planing: This deep cleaning procedure is performed under local anesthesia to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line and smooth rough spots on tooth roots. Scaling and root planing promote gum reattachment to teeth and reduce pocket depth, making it suitable for patients with significant plaque and calculus build-up under the gums.

Surgical Treatments

  • Flap Surgery (Pocket Reduction Surgery): Flap surgery involves lifting the gums to remove tartar and smooth irregular bone surfaces. This procedure reduces pocket depth, promotes gum reattachment, and limits bacterial hiding spots, making it suitable for patients with advanced gum disease and deep pockets.
  • Bone Grafts: Bone grafting replaces bone lost due to gum disease using fragments of the patient's own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone. It restores stability to teeth and provides a platform for bone regrowth, supporting long-term oral health.
  • Soft Tissue Grafts: Soft tissue grafts reinforce thin gums or fill in areas of gum recession. Typically taken from the roof of the mouth, the grafted tissue is stitched into place to augment affected areas and prevent further gum recession.
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration: Guided tissue regeneration stimulates bone and gum tissue growth using mesh-like fabric inserted between bone and gum tissue. It helps restore bone support for teeth and prevents further gum recession by promoting regeneration.

Periodontal Disease Management

Preventing periodontal disease is essential for maintaining overall health. Here are some simple yet effective ways to prevent the onset of gingivitis and periodontal disease:


  • Brush and Floss Consistently: This may seem obvious, but many people fail to floss as regularly as they should. Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss just before bed. If you have bridges, tooth implants, or mouth plates, consider using an interdental brush to remove trapped food particles.
  • Avoid Smoking: Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for the health of your teeth and gums. Tobacco inhibits the healing of soft tissue, causing dryness and creating an ideal environment for pathogenic bacteria to thrive. Smokers are at a higher risk of developing tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer. Quitting smoking can drastically improve your oral health.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: A healthy diet is not only good for your oral health but also for your overall physical well-being. A diet rich in vegetables, healthy oils and fats, fruits, legumes, nuts, fatty fish, and plenty of water can help. Research has shown that a diet high in omega-3 fats is particularly effective in reducing symptoms of periodontal disease and preventing further infection.
  • Don’t Skip Dental Check-Ups: Regular dental check-ups every six months to a year are crucial. During your check-up, your dentist will remove bacteria and plaque build-up in your mouth. They will also advise on the best course of action if you suffer from periodontal disease.


Transform your smile and safeguard your health with Dr. Gauri Savant, the best dentist in New York. Don't let gum disease compromise your well-being. Book your appointment today for expert care and personalized treatment to ensure your gums and teeth stay healthy for a lifetime!

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Location: 353 Lexington Ave #1607 New York, NY 10016

Contact: (212) 221-1481

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