Do You See Pink in the Sink?

If you see “pink” in the sink when rinsing, your gums are probably bleeding when you brush or floss. While you may think this is normal because it is common, bleeding is not normal. Rather, it is usually a sign of gum disease.

 

Gum disease affects 47.2% of the American populous, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. So, while about half of the people you know may have gum disease, it is far from healthy. Untreated gum disease causes the gums and bone to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that can become infected. The bacteria from the infection can actually enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body. Furthermore, medically-compromised individuals or those with already hindered immune systems can be even more at risk. If ignored, gum disease ultimately leads to tooth loss since the bone lost due to the disease is permanent.

How is gum disease detected?

Your dental care provider is able to perform periodontal charting– measuring around each tooth to detect bone loss, the presence of plaque, and the presence of bleeding. This should be preformed every 6 months to 1 year during visits. Measurements of 1,2, and up to 3mm are within a healthy, normal range, while 4mm and higher can indicate a problem. Your dental care provider will be able to explain this to you further and make recommendations based on your results.

 

How is gum disease treated?

 

Gum disease can be treated a few different ways, depending on its severity. The most severe, advanced cases may require that the “unsavable” teeth be removed in order to help keep the more stable teeth. On teeth that can be saved–but require more than just a “deep cleaning”– a procedure known as pocket reduction therapy can be performed. Thanks to modern technology and advances in dentistry, this can most comfortably be done with the assistance of a dental laser. The laser is a light that aids in the disinfection and ablation of the infected pockets. Small hand instruments are also used to remove plaque from the roots of the teeth during the procedure. After treatment, the gums will create a tighter seal around the now- clean root; thus, closing the pocket of infection that existed previously. This is typically done under local anesthesia, and most times without the need for stitches due to the less invasive nature of the laser.