Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is unfortunately common. Roughly 80% of adults have at least a mild form of gum disease, and many are unaware of it. It begins with plaque, a sticky substance comprised of bacteria and food debris that coats the teeth. Prompt removal of plaque is key, as it will soon harden into tartar. This strong, tough to remove substance can cause gum irritation, making it easier for bacteria to cause an infection. As the infection worsens and spreads, it can turn into gum disease.
The mildest form of gum disease is known as gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. Over time, untreated gingivitis can turn into periodontitis. At this stage, bacteria actually invade beneath the gum line to attack the bones and soft tissues that support the teeth. Eventually, untreated gum disease can cause tooth loss. It can also have an effect on your overall physical health.
Many people experience few symptoms until gum disease is highly advanced, but there are often subtle warning signs at the earliest stages. If you notice any of these 5 symptoms, see your dentist right away. The earlier gum disease is treated, the easier and more effective treatment usually is.
1. Chronic Bad Breath
Halitosis can have many different causes, but frequent bad breath is often an early warning sign of gum disease, especially when paired with a persistent odd taste in the mouth. This is due to the bacteria, which create a distinctive odor and taste that is tough to hide. Always check with the dentist about bad breath, as even if you do not have gum disease, most cases can be easily treated in our office. If you do have gum disease, catching it early lets us begin treatment right away.
2. Changes in How Your Gums Look or Feel
If your gums are healthy, they should be coral or pink in color, and appear even across all of your teeth. They should feel firm, with no sore or painful spots. If your gums otherwise seem healthy, but are red, swollen, or tender, especially when brushing and flossing, you might be experiencing gingivitis.
More advanced gum disease causes the gums to recede. This makes the teeth appear longer, and the gum tissue might look uneven across your mouth. If you notice these signs, make a dental appointment right away. Your gum disease is likely progressing, and we need to take immediate action to prevent its spread.
3. Blood or Pus in Your Mouth
Gum disease causes progressively worsening irritation, and blood in the mouth is a very common symptom of gingivitis. It is most commonly seen during oral hygiene, but can also show up when the gums are irritated, such as by chewing crunchy or crispy foods.
As gum disease progresses, small pockets of pus tend to form between the gums and the teeth. These small, swollen spots can feel soft or hard, but generally signal infection. It is not unusual to pop one of these spots during the normal course of eating, and experience a very bad taste in the mouth. In later stages of gum disease, these small, swollen pockets tend to give way to larger, very painful abscesses.
4. Changes in Your Bite or the Fit of Partial Dentures
Over time, untreated gum disease can cause the gums to detach from the teeth. Bacteria can multiply in the resulting gaps, and can work their way down to attack the tissues and bones that support the teeth. An early warning sign of this is often a slight change in your bite, or the way your teeth fit together. If you have a partial denture, you might notice that it sits differently in your mouth. This is a definite sign that your gum disease is worsening, so take it seriously and make an appointment immediately.
5. Teeth That Feel Loose or Shift in Your Mouth
Later-stage gum disease causes the teeth to actually loosen and shift from their original position in the mouth. This is a very serious symptom that indicates imminent tooth loss if the gum disease remains untreated. If you notice loose or shifting teeth, let us know immediately so that we can take action to save your teeth.
Gum disease is extremely common, but it can become highly serious if left untreated. Over time, it can cause severe health conditions including systemic infections and heart disease, as well as destroying your teeth. With proper treatment, however, we can stop and even reverse its progression. No matter what symptoms you are experiencing, now is the time to call our office to take the first steps toward a happier, healthier you.
Conveniently located in Woodbury, MN, Creekview Dental provides a progressive yet conservative approach to dental care. Our innovative, highly personalized procedures are focused on maintaining tooth structure and providing you with the healthy, beautiful smile you deserve. Call us today at 651-738-8204 to take the first steps on the road to better dental health.