You would know if you had gum disease, right? Like many other diseases, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) can be difficult to detect if you aren’t paying attention. And even if you are paying attention, the symptoms may be undetectable by an untrained eye– that’s why visiting a dentist every six months is so important. Dentists use these cleaning and exam appointments to spot signs of periodontal disease in the earliest stage.
The first stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, is the only time that this condition is reversible. Once it progresses to the next stage, periodontitis, it is no longer reversible and can only be kept at bay.
If you’re concerned that you may have periodontal disease, or if you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, check for these common gum disease symptoms:
1. Swollen, Red Gums
Healthy gums are pink and smooth. Red, inflamed gums in one spot or all along the gum line indicate that something isn’t right. While this could be explained by food stuck between the teeth or beneath the gum tissue, it is likely caused by gum disease.
Swollen, red gums are typically one of the first noticeable signs of periodontal disease. After calling to make an appointment with your local dentist, brush and floss your teeth, and swish with warm salt water to reduce the inflammation.
2. Bleeding Gums
Bleeding gums are another telltale sign of gingivitis or a more advanced form of gum disease. Your gums may bleed after your brush of floss. This is due to a buildup of plaque that makes them more sensitive.
The best treatment for this is a professional dental cleaning, but you may also be able to reverse gingivitis by brushing and flossing more regularly at home.
3. Persistent Bad Breath
There are few things more embarrassing than bad breath. While occasional bad breath is normal, like after eating a meal with onions and garlic, persistent bad breath is something to be concerned about. The bacteria that cause gum disease can also cause persistent bad breath. So, if you find that your breath smells even after brushing and flossing, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your local dentist.
4. Gum Recession
When periodontal disease goes untreated, it can cause serious damage to your gum tissue and teeth by causing the gums to pull away from the teeth. As more plaque builds up along the gum line, the bacteria will create pockets below the gum line where more plaque and bacteria will accumulate. These pockets become heavy and cause the gum tissue to pull away from the teeth.
Gum recession makes your teeth look longer and exposes the root of the tooth. People who have gum recession often complain about dental sensitivity because the roots aren’t supposed to be exposed to the substances we eat and drink.
Treatment for gum recession includes scaling and root planing, antibiotics, and, in severe cases, gum grafting.
5. Pus Between Teeth
You may have an abscess if you have the most serious form of gum disease, called periodontitis. The abscess is a pocket of pus in the gum tissue where the tartar has built up so much that pus forms and cannot drain.
This is a serious issue that must be addressed by a dentist immediately. Without treatment, you may experience a fever and throbbing pain, and the infection may spread to other parts of your body.
Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics, lance the abscess, and recommend further dental treatment like tooth extraction or oral surgery.
6. Loose Teeth
As the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth, your teeth may become loose. Again, this requires immediate attention from your dentist to keep the tooth or teeth from falling out. Combined with antibiotics, a pocket reduction procedure can help the gums reattach to the tooth root.
7. Tooth Loss
Tooth loss is one of the worst-case scenarios for people with gum disease. Periodontitis causes irreversible damage to the gum tissue and the supporting bone structures beneath the teeth. At this time, the teeth may fall out on their own or they may need to be removed by your dentist.
There will be several warning signs before you get to this point, as we have discussed above. To avoid this severe consequence and costly treatments, seek professional dental treatment at the first sign of gum disease.
Seek Treatment for Gum Disease Today
If you have any of these gum disease symptoms, don’t put off a trip to the dentist– it could save your smile! Our friendly dental team is prepared to offer you gentle, appropriate treatment for any form of gum disease. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.