What Are The Signs of Gum Disease?

Your gums are very important to your overall oral health. Because they are soft tissue and your mouth is a wet environment, bacteria are always present. When you don’t practice daily oral hygiene, bacteria and plaque are left in your mouth for too long, leading to gum disease. Bacteria occur in everyone’s mouth due to mucus, food debris, and plaque. This means everyone is at risk for gum disease if the plaque in your mouth is left to harden and form tartar. This can attack your tooth enamel and the tissue below your gum line. 

If you are not visiting your dentist for regular checkups, signs of gum disease can go unnoticed, allowing it to progress. Gum disease can range from mild inflammation in the early stages of gingivitis to a serious condition called periodontitis.

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the mildest form and earliest stage of gum disease. If left unchecked, it develops into periodontitis. Gingivitis is treatable with minimally invasive options, which means it is important to have regular dental checkups so it can be caught early.

What are the signs of gingivitis?

Signs of gingivitis include:

  • Bright red or purple gums
  • Tender or even painful gums
  • Bleeding from the gums when brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Soft gums

When you see these symptoms, you should call us right away so we can provide proper treatment.

What happens if gingivitis isn’t caught early?

If gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress to periodontitis, causing significant damage to the bone and soft tissue that support your teeth. This is because the bacteria in your mouth cause your immune system to attack the gum tissue and bone around your teeth.

The bacteria in your mouth can also get into your bloodstream, which can spread throughout your entire body leading to additional health problems.

How is periodontitis treated?

Treatment for periodontitis is more invasive than simple cleaning. It can require deeper cleaning called root planing and, in more serious cases, surgery and possibly bone and tissue grafts. These treatments are also expensive.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Although gum disease mainly affects people in their 30s or 40s, teens can also get gingivitis, although rarely. It is also more common in men. 

In the early stages of gingivitis, it might not be as obvious because it is painless. However, as it worsens, you can watch for these symptoms:

  • Loose teeth: Once the infection takes hold, your teeth can become loose. Deeper gum pockets around the teeth cause this.
  • Receding gums: Gum recession can occur as the tissue around your teeth erodes.
  • Sensitive teeth: As your gums recede, your teeth will become sensitive. Gums recede when you lose the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the softer dentin below.
  • Discomfort when eating: With the recession of your gums and loosening of your teeth, it can become painful to chew.
  • Bad breath: Halitosis is an ongoing bad breath that can also leave a bad taste in your mouth. The accumulation of plaque on your teeth forms toxins that cause a bad taste and smell.
  • Red, swollen, tender, or bleeding gums: Inflammation caused by the bacteria in your mouth leads to redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding. However, in the early stages of gingivitis, although there is inflammation, it is usually not painful.

As the disease progresses, you might also experience:

  • Pus around the teeth and gums
  • Mouth sores
  • Shiny gums
  • Change to your bite
  • Poor-fitting dentures if you have them
  • More gaps and spaces between your teeth

Any of these symptoms call for a dental appointment!

Who is at greater risk of gum disease?

There are some factors that can put you at higher risk, including:

  • Certain medications: There are many medications that can cause dry mouth. Without proper saliva flow, you can’t properly flush away germs and food debris which can lead to gum disease. Medications can also cause abnormal growth of gum tissue, which can make it harder to keep your gums and teeth clean.
  • Aging: As mentioned, gum disease is more common in people in their 30s and 40s. However, those over 65 have the highest occurrence of periodontitis.
  • Poor diet: If you are not getting enough nutrients, your immune system will be weaker. This will make it harder for your body to fight against infections, including gum disease.
  • Obesity: Being overweight can also increase the risk of gum problems.
  • Smoking: Smoking puts you at risk for many serious diseases, including increasing the chance for you to get gum disease. If you do have gum disease and smoke, it decreases the effectiveness of treatment.
  • Diabetes: When you have diabetes, you are at greater risk for many types of infections, including gingivitis and periodontitis.
  • Other medical conditions: Conditions like cancer and AIDS, in hand with their treatments, can contribute to your risk for gum disease
  • Genetics: Some family histories include vulnerability to periodontitis.
  • Teeth grinding: Grinding or clenching your teeth can aggravate gum diseases due to added pressure on your teeth.
  • Pregnancy and menopause: Although gum disease is more common in men, hormones during menopause and pregnancy can make gums more susceptible to gingivitis for women.
  • Anxiety: Stress can reduce your ability to fight infection.

If you have any of the above risk factors, it’s always best to have regular dental checkups so we can keep an eye on your gum health.

How to Prevent Gum Disease

Although gum disease is very common, it is also very preventable. It just takes good oral hygiene habits to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Even if you have some of the risk factors, proper oral hygiene, in hand with regular dental checkups, will help you maintain healthy teeth and gums.

Focusing on both brushing and proper flossing every day will help you reduce plaque and bacteria. Along with regular dental cleanings, your teeth will remain healthy. You should also always look for signs of gum disease. Because the early signs do not cause noticeable pain, you can look for things such as swollen or bleeding gums.

You can also make healthier choices including:

  • Enjoy a healthier diet
  • Lose weight
  • Quit smoking

This will help keep your teeth and gums healthy.

What are the consequences of gum disease?

The number one cause of tooth loss in adults is gum disease. By maintaining a good oral health regime and scheduling annual comprehensive periodontal evaluations, you can help avoid the pain, expensive treatment, and the possibility of tooth loss associated with gum diseases. We can provide advice on protecting yourself against gum disease based on your health and history.

If you are worried about gum disease, contact Dawson Dental here to set up an appointment with our team.