6 Troubling Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, affects the supportive tissues that surround your teeth. The condition can cause loss of the tissue and bone that support your teeth and keep them in place. When untreated, gum disease can cause permanent tooth loss and affect how your mouth functions for eating and talking. Despite ongoing education to prevent gum disease, nearly half of U.S. adults over age 30 suffer from some form of the condition.

Because gum disease is typically painless in its early stages, you may not realize you have it. Twice-yearly dental checkups can help identify early signs of the condition at a stage when treatment can prevent permanent damage. Our team at Sac Dentist in Sacramento, California, provides expert services for the prevention of gum disease. If you develop the condition, our dental professionals have the expertise necessary to help you restore your gums to health and minimize long-term effects.

Find out if you’re overlooking one of these six common symptoms of gum disease before they cause functional and cosmetic damage. 

#1 Swollen, red, or tender gums 

Swollen, red, or tender gums typically occur at the earliest stage of gum disease, called gingivitis. Gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up at your gumline. Plaque consists of a combination of millions of bacteria and food particles. The substance develops into a sticky, soft film that can cause tooth decay and gum disease when not removed with proper brushing and flossing.

Swollen and red gums occur as a result of inflammation, your body’s natural response to bacteria. Affected gums typically appear red and may protrude out and hide parts of your teeth. If you have gum disease, you may notice swollen, red, or tender gums around one tooth or your entire mouth. 

#2 Bleeding during brushing, flossing, or eating hard food

Many people don’t think about gum disease until they notice their gums bleeding while brushing, flossing, or biting down on food. Persistent bleeding gums can indicate the presence of periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. At this stage, the infection can spread to your gums, jawbone, and tissues that connect your teeth to your gums. As these tissues deteriorate in periodontitis, your teeth become unattached and fall out.

#3 Receding gums that make teeth look longer

When plaque isn’t removed, it can cause your gums to separate, or recede, from your teeth. When gum recession occurs, gaps form between your teeth and gums. These pockets trap bacteria, which attacks your gums and the bone supporting your teeth. As it becomes more difficult to remove the food and debris trapped in these pockets, the gaps worsen and become deeper. 

As the tissue that holds your teeth to your gums is destroyed, your tooth roots can become exposed, making your teeth more sensitive when eating, particularly with hot or cold food and drinks.

#4 Pus between your gums and teeth

As the pockets between your teeth and gums become larger, it’s more likely that bacteria can get stuck in these spaces and cause an infection. Your immune system reacts to the infection by sending white blood cells to attack the bacteria. Pus forms when dead white blood cells collect at the site. 

As the pus collects, it forms a dental abscess. Unlike many symptoms of gum disease, a dental abscess can cause intense pain and even make you feel ill.

#5 Changes in the way your teeth align when you bite

As gum disease attacks the tissue around your teeth, the tissue becomes weaker and less capable of holding your teeth in place. The transition occurs subtly, usually starting when you notice that your teeth don’t align correctly when you bite. As the condition progresses, it can affect how you use your entire mouth. If you have partial dentures, you may notice similar misalignment that wasn’t present when you started using the dentures.

#6 Persistent bad breath

Bad breath, or halitosis, occurs often with gum disease. The odor originates from gases released by the bacteria caught on and between your teeth. Tiny pieces of food debris can also get caught with the bacteria and release odors as they begin to rot. Some foods, like onions, garlic, and spices, can intensify these odors. 

You can prevent the embarrassing and unsightly effects of gum disease with proper dental hygiene and professional checkups. Find out if you have symptoms of gum disease before damage occurs. Contact our office for a professional dental cleaning and examination. 

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