Following a dedicated oral hygiene routine at home and undergoing regular dental cleanings and exams can take you a long way in maintaining a healthy mouth. Yet, gum disease can still sneak up on you and wreak havoc on your dental health and smile at the same time. For this particular reason, it is essential to know the signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for so you stop the disease in its tracks before it becomes problematic.
What Exactly is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, affects mouth tissues that provide support to your teeth. It develops when bacteria build up inside the mouth as a result of poor dental hygiene, teeth misalignment, or specific health conditions like diabetes. Certain medications and tobacco use can also contribute to the formation of gum disease.
The earliest stage, gingivitis, is often treatable and reversible. The more advanced stage, called periodontitis, occurs when plaque spreads to areas beneath your gum line. The longer that plaque is left untreated, the more damage it can do. The production of bacteria continues and will irritate the gums, soon causing an inflammatory response. Infection may set in, and the tissue and bone can break down further.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
Getting in the practice of being on the lookout for clues that gum disease is forming can help you maintain a healthy mouth. It can also let you know when to seek immediate attention. Look for the following signs and symptoms.
Redness, swelling, tenderness, or pain
If your gums appear red or start to swell, an infection may be present. It is essential to seek treatment at this point to keep the gum disease from progressing and affecting both the mouth tissue and the jaw bone. The infection can also carry into your bloodstream and create other health conditions within the body.
Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating
One of the most well-known signs and symptoms of gum disease is the bleeding that easily occurs as you brush or floss. Your toothbrush or floss may be tinged in pink or outright red. Bleeding can also occur while you are eating your favorite foods. The cause behind this is the presence of toxins in built-up plaque, which can develop into a bacterial infection. When this happens, the mouth tissues are prone to bleeding with even the smallest of actions.
Gums receding or pulling away from the base of your teeth is another sign of gum disease. Gums recede when the bacteria produce toxins, which then begin to destroy supporting tissues in the mouth.
Formation of pockets below or between teeth
As gums recede, pockets can form at the base of your teeth or between them. Pocket depth is of considerable concern. The deeper the pocket and the bigger it is signals a more advanced stage of gum disease and will require specialized treatments by your dentist.
Continual bad breath
Bad breath (halitosis) can have a number of causes, including food particles remaining stuck in hidden places between teeth and below your gum line. Pockets in the gums can capture more bacteria and food debris, also causing continual bad breath.
Changes to your bite or loose teeth
A clear sign that you are experiencing rapidly progressing gum disease (periodontitis) is loose teeth or a shifting of teeth in a particular area. As gum disease progresses, more of the bone and tissue that hold teeth in place are destroyed. Where the tooth once attached securely to the jaw bone, it now becomes loose or shifts out of place without that needed support. As a result of this shifting, you may notice changes in your bite and how your upper and lower teeth fit together.
In some cases, you may not notice any signs or symptoms of developing gum disease. Fortunately, during dental exams, your dentist will know where to look and which questions to ask to determine if gum disease is indeed sneaking up on you.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
While continuing to be on the lookout for the signs and symptoms of gum disease, you can also take the following steps to help prevent its development.
- Continue practicing good oral hygiene by brushing twice per day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and flossing at least once per day
- Find a specialized mouthwash that contains antimicrobial ingredients and is designed to prevent and treat gum disease.
- Schedule bi-annual dental cleanings and exams
- Eat healthier, avoiding as many sugary and starchy foods as you can, so you limit the chances of higher bacterial growth in your mouth.
- Understand which of your medications or health conditions can lead to gum disease and discuss them with your doctor and dentist.
- Wear a customized night guard if you grind your teeth at night, and make sure you clean and sanitize it before and after use.
- Limit or quit smoking, as it can damage soft tissues and bone attachment in the mouth and also interferes with how cells function inside your gum tissue.
Learn More About Gum Disease by Contacting Linworth Family Dental Today
When it comes to your dental health and smile, your gums play a crucial role. The team at Linworth Family Dental can help you maintain a healthy mouth, and if you are already showing signs or symptoms of gum disease, we can provide treatments to halt its progression. To learn more, contact our office to schedule an appointment today.