The warning signs of gum disease and how to fight it

woman with toothache

Gum disease is a serious problem that not only affects your dental health, but can lead to other serious health issues within your body.

It’s never too late to treat gum disease, but prevention is better than cure, so we’ve put together this short article with the most common warning signs you should be on the lookout for.

What is gum disease?

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection in your gums and sometimes affects the bone surrounding your teeth.

It happens through a build-up of plaque, which, if left untreated, can form into tartar, a tougher form of plaque which can’t be removed by brushing alone.

Skipping brushing or flossing is the main cause of gum disease, but there are also other contributing factors, such as smoking, diabetes, and prescription medications.

The difference between gingivitis and periodontitis

It’s a common misconception that gingivitis is a fancy word for gum disease. In reality, gingivitis is the precursor to periodontitis, in the same way being overweight is the precursor to obesity.

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums, caused by the build-up of plaque. If left untreated, things will get worse, reaching a level at which the body’s immune system can no longer contain the infection. This eventually leads to periodontitis, which is when the real health problems start, including bone loss and loose teeth.

Gum disease and tooth decay

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

Like almost all health issues, the sooner the problem is discovered, the easier it is to fix. When it comes to gum disease, the main goal is to control and prevent the spread of infection. If you notice any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist immediately.

Bleeding and swollen gums

We’ve all probably experienced bleeding gums at some point, especially when brushing, and there are a few reasons why this might happen, but if your gums bleed easily and often, then it’s a red flag you need to visit your dentist. Gums swelling, turning red or feeling tender is also a warning sign of gum disease (or the beginnings of) and shouldn’t be ignored.

Gums pulling away from teeth

If your teeth look like they’re getting longer, you’re not imagining it. What’s actually happening is that the gum surrounding them is receding, giving them the appearance of looking longer. And while this is a natural process as you get older (where the phrase “long in the tooth” comes from), it shouldn’t be obvious for anyone under 60.

Loose or sensitive teeth

When our gums recede, they leave more room for bacteria to gather and multiple. These “gum pockets” as they’re known, can lead to teeth becoming loose, and possibly even fall out. Keep an eye out for wobbly teeth, or a difference in your bite. As the gum covering the tooth root recedes, the root surface becomes exposed and because the root surface of the tooth doesn’t have enamel on it to protect it, the tooth becomes sensitive, which will result in painful experiences, especially when drinking cold beverages.

Bad breath

One of the more embarrassing signs of gum disease is halitosis. The build-up of bacteria between the teeth causes infection, which in turn releases an obnoxious smell. The problem is, you will slowly get used to it, but other people won’t, meaning they will notice it before you do.

How you can fight gum disease

A visit to your dentist is essential if you think you have any of the signs of gum disease. They will examine you to see how bad the infection is and the best course of action moving forward.

A dental hygienist will scrape away the tartar and plaque, giving your mouth a good clean, and from there the rest is up to you.

To prevent gum disease in the first place, the obvious answer is simple; brushing and flossing regularly. If you smoke you’re 3 – 6 times as likely to develop gum disease (not to mention mouth cancer), so quit if you value your health.

Man brushing teeth

Call us today and arrange a checkup

As horrible as gum disease is, if detected early enough, the symptoms can be reversed quite easily. If you recognise any of the above warning signs, contact us today and we’ll make an appointment to give you a good oral check-up.

Patient comfort is our priority here at SDAI, and we’re 100% committed to our patients and their health.

Gum disease is preventable, and regular check-ups can prevent it from happening before things turn really bad.

A visit to our dental hygienist for a regular clean and scale can help fight the bacteria building up between your teeth and gums, preventing the onset of gum disease.

Contact us today if you have any questions about us, our dental practice, or how to prevent gum disease. Our friendly and helpful staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have.