Gum Disease Symptoms To Look Out For

Did you know that half of all American adults have gum disease? While most adults know gum disease is bad and they should be doing whatever they can to prevent it, not everyone knows what symptoms they should be looking out for. Furthermore, they don’t know what they can do to stop it from developing further. In this month’s post, we’ll go over what gum disease is, how to prevent it, and what symptoms to lookout for so you can treat it before it’s too late.

Reduce your risk of cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease with regular dental exams & cleanings.

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What is Gum Disease?

Gum Disease (also known as periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection that inflames the gums. If not treated properly, it can grow to affect the bone that surrounds and provides support for your teeth! Gum Disease can show itself in many different ways – from minor to severe.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest and least severe stage of gum disease. Gingivitis generally doesn’t require advanced treatment, and can usually be treated with a dental cleaning and good oral hygiene. Gingivitis will generally show itself with redness and soreness in your gums. If not treated properly, gingivitis will lead to more severe forms of gum disease. This could mean severely damaged gums or even tooth loss – not to mention a degradation of your whole body’s health!

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is what happens when gingivitis goes untreated. Once your gum disease has advanced to periodontitis, the gum tissue is likely pulling away from the teeth. This allows bacteria to enter the pockets and cause your infection to become even more severe. There are three common types of periodontitis:

  • Chronic Periodontitis: A slow build up of symptoms that will improve and get worse over time.
  • Aggressive Periodontitis: A rapid build up of symptoms. This only affects a small number of people, but can lead to serious health consequences such as bone or tooth loss.
  • Necrotizing Periodontal Disease: Leads to the death of gum tissue, tooth ligaments, and supporting bone, which is caused by a lack of blood supply. This form generally only occurs in individuals with a suppressed immune system, including those with an HIV infection or who are undergoing cancer treatments.
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Causes of Gum Disease

While there are many causes of gum disease, the larger overarching cause is almost always poor oral hygiene. Broadly, the cause of gum disease is the bacteria build-up in plaque (a sticky, colorless film) on your teeth. The formation of plaque is completely normal – so long as you remove it through regular brushing, flossing, and teeth cleanings. If plaque is not removed, it turns into tartar. Unlike plaque, which can be removed easily with good oral hygiene, tartar is not as simple to remove and will need to be handled by an experienced dentist.

Risk Factors for Gum Disease

While poor oral hygiene can give anyone gum disease, there are some risk-factors that make you a lot more likely to contract gum disease. These include:

  • Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products
  • A family history of gum disease
  • Diabetes
  • Medications that will dry your mouth, since saliva plays integral role in washing away plaque and bacteria
  • Stress, which can lessen your ability to fight off infections such as gum disease
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Gum Disease Symptoms

Given the extreme risks such as tooth loss and structural damage to your jaw, it’s important you keep an eye out for early symptoms of gum disease. This will allow you to treat and identify the issue before it’s too late! Keep an eye out for the following symptoms.

Tender Gums

Tender gums are one of the first symptoms you’ll notice when developing gum disease. Since gingivitis generally develops gradually, you may not even notice that they are tender at first. You’ll feel the tenderness in your gums while…

  • Brushing your teeth
  • Flossing
  • Eating
  • Drinking hot or cold liquids

Swollen and Bleeding Gums

Swollen gums are another early symptom of gum disease to be on the lookout for. Once they have been swollen and red for a little bit, they may even start to bleed. This will generally happen directly after eating or brushing your teeth. If this happens, don’t panic! While your gums should never bleed after normal brushing and eating, it does not mean you necessarily have advanced stage gum disease. It does likely mean you are not taking care of your teeth, however. If you notice constant bleeding in your teeth, give your Vancouver area dentist a call.

Receding Gums

Have you noticed your teeth getting bigger? This is actually due to more of them showing – not an actual growth of your teeth (teeth don’t grow when you’re an adult!). This is a sign your gums are receding. Another sign your teeth are receding will be an appearance of a black triangle between your teeth. While healthy gums will have gum tissue in this space – this tissue will retreat when you have gum disease and leave the space open. The part of your teeth that now shows due to the gum recession will also be extremely sensitive to hot and cold beverages due to it being able to reach the root surface.

Bad Breath

Bad breath can be more serious than just forgetting to brush your teeth or eating garlic. Bad breath or a funky taste in your mouth can be a sign that you are developing gum disease. This is particularly true if you are keeping up with (relatively) good oral healthcare at home and it’s happening persistently. Gum disease is an infection after all, and the bad smell or taste is a sign that something is going awry.

Loose Teeth

As an adult, your teeth should not be moving around. This is a sign that your gum disease has advanced and something is off with your gums. Beyond just feeling loose teeth, you may notice that your teeth seem more:

  • Crooked
  • Gapped
  • Crowded

These will all affect how you bite and will lead to the loss of your teeth.

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What Can I Do To Help?

The first step of any treatment for gum disease is seeking professional treatment from a dentist. Particularly if you have already developed some of these symptoms, seeking help from a dentist will help get your smile back on track. If you haven’t yet experienced the effects of gum disease, keeping on top of your oral health will do the most to keep your mouth healthy. We recommend:

  • Good Oral Care at Home – This means brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day.
  • Regular Cleanings – Bi-annual cleanings will remove any tartar buildup on your teeth
  • Routine Dental Exams – These will help ensure that even if you have developed gum disease that it is caught early and prevented before it becomes even worse. Your dental exam is also a good time to ask questions and learn how to properly care for your teeth

Are You Worried You Are Experiencing Gum Disease?

Radiance Dental offers a friendly, comfortable environment for you and your family. We are committed to ensuring you and your smile stay healthy for years. If you’re ready to be scheduled for a dental appointment, or even just have some questions about gum disease, contact us today at (360) 369-6420.