Warning Signs of Gum Disease

by Dr. Diane Hourigan

When we are children, the concept of brushing and flossing is drilled into our collective subconscious, but most of the scare tactics used to convince us to brush and floss revolve around what will happen to our teeth if we don’t. The fear of cavities often is the major selling point, but the truth is that gum disease can be just as problematic long-term, and brushing and flossing regularly is every bit as good for the gums as it is for the teeth.

Thankfully, periodontal (gum) disease can be prevented in part by better brushing and flossing habits, but if left untreated it can lead to serious long-term problems, including sore, bleeding gums, painful chewing problems, and possibly even tooth loss.

The following are some of the warning signs for periodontal disease that suggest you should visit your general dentist sometime soon for a deeper cleaning and a consultation about how to take better care of your gums moving forward:

#1 Bleeding Gums

Perhaps the most common byproduct of gum disease is bleeding gums, which more often are irritated when you brush or floss, though it can happen when you eat hard foods, as well. If you do notice some blood along your gum line when you floss, it most likely is a result of bacteria buildup along the gum line, which is causing gingivitis—an early form of periodontitis.

#2 Receding Gums

If left unresolved, that early-stage periodontitis can lead to receding gums, which means your teeth have started to appear longer when you smile. This is common in many older patients but is not reserved exclusively for them. Bacterial infection actually is destroying gum tissue in this instance, so receding gums are a major red flag for gum disease.

#3 Halitosis

Persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, also can be a symptom of gum disease. The bacteria caught at the gum line can create a bad odor or bad taste in your mouth, so if you feel as though you’ve got bad breath that just won’t quit, it’s possible gum disease it at least partially to blame.

#4 Tender/Swollen Gums

If your gums have begun to look swollen and/or redder than usual, that should be a red flag that something isn’t right with them. Left alone too long, this type of inflammation can cause big problems on the gum tissue and the bone in your teeth, and can even lead to the loss of teeth long-term.

#5 Tooth Sensitivity

Sensitive teeth can be caused by any of a number of things, but one potential root of the cause could be gum disease. Any kind of tooth sensitivity should be checked out by your general dentist, but in conjunction with any of these other symptoms, it could represent the beginnings of periodontal disease.

Your Trusted Chapel Hill Dentist

Keep an eye out for these symptoms, and understand that in many cases the fix to these issues boils down to taking better care of your teeth and gums. Brush more often and more thoroughly, and don’t forget to floss. And, as always, if you need a deeper cleaning or think you may be suffering from more serious gum disease, do not hesitate to reach out to the office of Dr. Diane Hourigan any time. She and her staff will help get your gums healthy again!

Source: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info