Gum disease, or periodontitis, is much more serious than many people think. While the early symptoms may seem minor, untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss and even systemic infection that spreads through the bloodstream to the heart, lungs, and other organs. This is why early diagnosis and treatment are crucial.
Here are four signs of gum disease everyone should be aware of.
4 Warning Signs of Gum Disease
1. Gum Problems
The most obvious signs of early gum disease are found in the gums themselves. These include:
- Swelling and redness
- Receding gums
- Tenderness and bleeding
- Discharge from between the teeth and gums
Healthy gums are pink; they do not bleed when you brush or floss. When you come to our office for routine dental exams and cleanings, we look for these signs so we can treat gum disease before it progresses to more serious symptoms. If it’s been a while since your last check-up and you’re experiencing any combination of these gum issues, it’s important to make an appointment as soon as possible. At this stage, treatment for gum disease is simple and highly effective.
2. Bad Breath
While bad breath isn’t necessarily a sign of gum disease, if you have gum disease, it’s almost certain that you also suffer from bad breath. This is because gum disease is a chronic bacterial infection. The bacteria collects and forms plaque just below the gum line, which means it cannot be removed with brushing or flossing. This plaque emits a foul odor and it also releases acid that causes tooth decay, another reason for bad breath.
Maybe you’re not sure if you have bad breath. Another related sign of gum disease is a persistent bad taste in the mouth. The cause of this bad taste is the same as the cause of bad breath—the plaque and bacteria that colonizes below the gums and cannot be brushed, flossed, or rinsed away. If you have a bad taste in your mouth that never seems to go away, schedule an appointment with us so we can determine if gum disease is the underlying cause.
3. Gum Pockets
Gum recession is one of the early signs of gum disease; as gum disease progresses, gum pockets begin to form. Pockets are exactly what they sound like: gaps between the root of the tooth and the gums were plaque collects. Once pockets have formed, they continue to deepen until you receive professional treatment because the bacteria in these pockets cannot be removed by brushing or flossing. Bacteria in pockets can eventually cause tooth and jaw bone loss.
4. Changes to Your Teeth
Gum disease doesn’t just impact the gums. It affects the health of your whole mouth, especially your teeth. When you have gum disease, you’re likely to experience the following changes to your teeth:
- Increased sensitivity, particularly to sweet and cold sensations
- Teeth that feel loose
- “Longer” teeth, a sign of gum recession
- Pain when biting and chewing
- A feeling that your teeth no longer fit together properly when you bite
- Gaps forming between your teeth, a sign that your teeth are shifting
Once you begin to experience gum disease symptoms in your teeth, it’s critical to see your dentist as soon as possible.