Changes in your gums can be alarming. After all, healthy gums are essential for strong teeth. However, many of us have little to no understanding of our gum health until things go awry.
If you’ve noticed a hole in your gums, irritation, or other irregularities, you’ve likely started to panic. And while it’s good to worry about your oral health, it’s better to have an understanding of these changes so you can make the right decisions to treat the problem.
In this post, we’ll answer questions like “why is there a hole in my gums?”, “what are the different types of gum disease (like periodontitis)?” and “how to prevent holes in your gums,” so you can get the care you need. Keep reading for a full explanation of what’s causing the holes in your gum line and how to address the issue, or use the links below to skip ahead:
- Why Do I Have a Hole in My Gums?
- Difference Between Gingivitis & Periodontitis?
- Types of Periodontal Disease
- Treatment for Periodontal Disease
- How to Prevent Holes in Your Gums & Gum Disease
Why Do I Have a Hole in My Gums?
There are varying degrees of what can be considered a hole in your gums. You could be referring to gaps between the gums and teeth that leave underlying tissue exposed or open sores in the gums.
Holes in your gums are typically a side effect of gum disease. This is because bacteria has built up on the gums and has gradually begun to eat away at the tissue. At first, this starts as tiny holes in the gum tissue, but as it worsens, it can create a larger, more noticeable hole that reveals underlying layers of the gums. Left untreated, this hole can get deeper, allowing the bacteria to access the tooth structure underneath.
Needless to say, if you see holes in your gums or excess space between your gums and teeth, it’s important to seek professional dental care as soon as possible.
Difference Between Gingivitis & Periodontitis?
As mentioned, holes in your gums can develop in varying degrees based on the stage of infection. The two main types of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is a precursor to periodontitis. Some important things to note about gingivitis include:
- Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest stage of gum disease.
- Gingivitis is reversible.
- As gingivitis worsens, bacteria accumulate on the gums and begin to attack the gum tissue.
- Some visible symptoms of gingivitis include redness, sensitivity, and bleeding when brushing.
If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, which is a much more serious condition. Some key aspects of periodontitis you should note include:
- As gingivitis escalates to periodontitis, small holes in the gum between the teeth can develop.
- Holes in your gums can loosen the supporting gum tissue around the teeth, causing them to become less stable.
- Untreated periodontal disease continues to progress to periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss and eventually enters the bloodstream, increasing your risk of certain serious conditions.
- Periodontitis can be linked to systemic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
Types of Periodontal Disease
As stated earlier, there are two main types of periodontal disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. However, there are several subtypes of periodontitis—understanding the different types and identifying which you suffer from is essential to getting your condition under control. The five types of gum disease are:
- Gingivitis: The mildest form of periodontal disease, which is characterized by noticeable symptoms of irritation like bleeding and redness. With gingivitis, patients typically suffer only minimal damage, which is generally reversible.
- Periodontitis: Gum tissue begins to break down, pockets can form between the teeth and gums as the tissue recedes, and infection worsens.
- Aggressive periodontitis: As periodontitis escalates without treatment, the gum tissue further separates from the teeth, and the infection can reach the supportive bone tissue.
- Chronic periodontitis: In chronic periodontitis, the condition progresses more slowly than aggressive periodontitis. However, the tissue is receding, pockets (or holes in the gums) are forming, and bone loss is still occurring.
- Necrotizing periodontitis: In this form of periodontitis, cells within gum tissue, connective fibers, and jaw bone that hold the teeth in place die off. Typically, this condition is associated with other systemic diseases such as HIV.
If you were previously wondering, “can gum disease affect my health?”, the answer is yes—and the consequences can be severe. As periodontal disease escalates, it’s able to further penetrate dental structures and even your bloodstream, which can cause serious overall health issues. As such, it is essential that you keep an eye out for changes in your gum health and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Signs & Symptoms to Look for
Now that you know more about the different types of periodontal disease, how do you know if you have it? What does gum disease look like and feel like? We touched on some of the symptoms above, but here’s a list of symptoms you should look for that might indicate that you’re suffering from gum disease:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Gums bleeding when brushing
- Holes in your gums or separation of gum tissue from the teeth
- Lower areas of the teeth becoming visible (that you couldn’t see before)
- Loose teeth that wiggle in place
- Increased spacing between teeth
Treatment for Periodontal Disease
After reading about the different types of periodontal disease, your anxiety has likely increased, leaving you wondering, “is periodontal disease curable?”. The answer is yes, with professional help.
Depending on the severity of periodontal disease, treatment options may include the following:
- Antibiotics: If you’ve caught gum disease in the earliest stage—-gingivitis—treatment is relatively simple to administer. In mild cases, antibiotics can be prescribed to fight gingivitis.
- Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning): The dental hygienist will clean below the gum line during a procedure known as scaling and root planing. First, they will remove bacteria and buildup. Then, they will smooth the root surfaces so they can properly reattach to the teeth. This helps heal the damage and prevent further infection.
- Pocket reduction: This is a surgical procedure that may be necessary if large periodontal pockets have formed (the space or hole between the gums and teeth). During this procedure, the doctor folds back the gum tissue, removes bacteria, and then reattaches the gum tissue. This procedure aims to reduce pocket depth, undo some of the damage caused by periodontal disease, and allow the gums to securely reattach to the bone.
- Soft tissue grafting: If the gums have severely receded, a soft tissue graft may be needed to cover the exposed tooth roots. In the most basic terms, tissue is taken from the roof of your mouth (or a tissue bank may be used) and connected to the remaining gum tissue.
- Bone grafting: If bone loss has occurred due to advanced periodontitis, bone grafting may be necessary. Bone grafting is similar to soft tissue grafting in that grafted or donated bone tissue is introduced to existing bone tissue in order to replace what was lost and promote regeneration, or new bone growth.
Once you receive a formal diagnosis from your doctor, they can recommend the best treatment method to help restore your oral health. In some cases, they may recommend to you a periodontist, a doctor who specializes in gum treatments, for the more invasive gum disease treatments.
Save Money on Periodontal Treatments
Many people avoid dental treatments because of fear, especially when it comes to gum disease, but money is also a major factor that results in delayed treatment. When it comes to gum disease, the earlier you seek treatment, the better—so don’t let the cost of treatment lead you down the road of dental destruction. If you don’t have insurance or your insurance plan doesn’t cover all of your periodontal treatment, you may benefit from a dental savings plan.
A dental savings plan is a membership that allows you to save money on your treatment, so you can afford to address problems sooner rather than later. For example, the average member savings on scaling and root planing treatments is 65% off.
How to Prevent Holes in Your Gums & Gum Disease
There are several easy steps you can take to prevent holes in your gums and gum disease, including:
- Practicing good dental habits: You should brush and floss at least twice daily, if not after every meal. This is because food can stick to teeth, creating plaque buildup and allowing bacteria to grow. By brushing after every meal, you minimize the risk of bacteria multiplying in your mouth and help prevent tooth decay. You should also floss daily to remove smaller particles and reach places your toothbrush can’t.
- Using the right dental hygiene products: Not all dental hygiene products are created equally. To prevent gum disease and gingivitis holes from forming, you should research toothpaste with proven gum benefits, the best drugstore toothbrush, and the most effective floss. Using the best dental hygiene products is essential to remove as much bacteria from your mouth as possible and prevent buildup.
- Getting professional dental cleanings twice per year: During your bi-annual dental cleaning, the hygienist will use special tools to remove plaque and tartar that is stuck to teeth and take other steps to thoroughly clean in ways that you can’t at home. The general rule of thumb for dental cleanings is twice per year. However, some people may need them more or less frequently based on other aspects that may affect their oral health.
Seek Gum Treatment as Soon as Possible
Maintaining healthy gums is one of the keys to keeping your smile looking and feeling it’s best. While dealing with holes in your gums and other gum problems can be intimidating, it is in your best interest to seek treatment as soon as you notice any changes. Don’t let money be the main factor standing in your way. With a dental savings plan, you can lower the cost of your treatment and get the gum care you need before your condition worsens.