Gum Disease: What Are the 6 Top Warning Signs?

Catch gum disease early

Periodontal Disease: What To Look Out For

Gum disease affects nearly half of all adults, with nearly 10% of those suffering from its advanced effects. Also known as periodontal disease, the condition can worsen to cause serious issues like tooth loss.

Gum disease can start with few to no symptoms, and many patients aren’t aware of the key warning signs to watch out for to tell when they need periodontal treatment.

1. Persistent Bad Breath

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. This condition is typically associated with bad breath, and for good reason: It’s one of the most recognizable symptoms of early gum disease.

Gum disease is caused by bacteria that create an unpleasant smell as they metabolize food particles left behind in your mouth. Bad breath from time to time isn’t a strong indicator of gum disease, but having bad breath all the time is well worth checking out with your dentist.

2. Swollen, Bleeding Gums

As harmful bacteria continue to grow around and beneath the gumline, they release acid. This is what causes tooth decay and cavities. It also inflames the gums, causing swelling, redness, and pain.

This same issue can cause significant weakening of the gums. You might start to notice bleeding gums when brushing or flossing. This is not normal. Healthy gums should not bleed during regular brushing and flossing, so early gum disease is likely the cause of these issues.

3. Receding Gums

If you’ve noticed that your smile doesn’t appear quite as proportional as it used to, that could also be a sign of gum disease. As the condition progresses, your gums can start to recede, making your teeth appear longer as the gums cover less of their surface.

Gum recession caused by periodontal disease is a serious issue because it can accelerate its progression. As your gums recede, they pull away from the teeth and create even more hard-to-reach areas. These spaces are difficult or even impossible to reach when brushing, allowing bacteria to grow in even greater numbers.

4. Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth are a symptom shared by many different dental issues. They can arise due to cavities, tooth decay, physical damage, or gum disease. In the case of gum disease, receding gums can expose tooth roots, which are more sensitive than the rest of the tooth.

There is not a thick enamel covering on the root as there is on the crown, or visible portion of the tooth. This makes those areas more susceptible to hot and cold sensitivity and can also increase the risk of tooth decay when exposed.

5. Changes in Your Bite

Unless you have existing issues that require orthodontic treatment, your teeth should fit together comfortably when you close your mouth. If you notice that the way your teeth fit together has changed, then gum disease could be one of the causes.

Advanced gum disease can eat away at the bone that supports your teeth. As this bone weakens, your teeth gradually shift into different positions. Shifting teeth can also be caused by wisdom tooth eruption and other issues, but gum disease is among the prime causes to consider.

6. Loose Teeth

The same issue that causes a change in your bite can also lead to loose teeth. As bacteria accumulate and penetrate deeper, they affect the supporting tissue and bone that holds teeth in place. This can lead to them becoming loose, a sensation similar to losing a baby tooth.

These loosened teeth are at serious risk of loss. If gum disease continues to progress, the teeth will almost surely be lost at some point. Missing teeth can cause a wide range of long-term complications, so catching gum disease early enough for preventive treatment is always in your best interest.

How Gum Disease Starts and Progresses

Gum disease is the result of bacteria building up in plaque deposits below the gumline. Bacteria can quickly grow and spread if a patient doesn’t keep up with routine dental cleanings and regular brushing and flossing. In some cases, gum disease can also take hold even in patients with good oral hygiene.

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, with the primary symptoms being gum swelling and redness. This can progress to bleeding gums, receding gums, loose teeth, and eventually tooth loss. The best way to prevent these serious oral health issues is to detect gum disease early through regular checkups and maintain good oral hygiene.

The Prevention and Treatment You Need

When you need preventive care and treatment to deal with gum disease, you can count on Sheppard Family Dental Care. We provide routine checkups and dental cleanings as well as treatment options for established gum disease. Contact our office today to book your appointment.