Approximately 80% of all adults have some form of periodontal disease. It is caused by plaque, a sticky blend of food debris and bacteria that accumulates on the teeth and gums. If not removed quickly, plaque can harden into calculus, irritating the gums and increasing the risk of infection. As bacteria spreads through the gums, it causes periodontal disease, also known as gum disease.
Gingivitis is the earliest and most treatable form of gum disease. Left untreated, gingivitis will worsen into periodontitis. Over time, it can attack the soft tissues and even the bone structure, leading to tooth loss and putting your overall health at risk. Fortunately, there are some easily recognized signs of gum disease. If you notice any of these signs, call your dentist as soon as possible.
1. Red, Swollen, Tender, or Receding Gums
Healthy gums are coral or pink in color, and they are firm and even across all the teeth. If yours feel tender during brushing or flossing, or appear red or swollen, you might have gingivitis. Untreated gum disease can cause the gums to recede, giving the teeth a longer appearance.
2. Bleeding or Pus-Filled Gums
Bleeding gums, especially when eating crunchy foods or during oral hygiene, are a common symptom of gingivitis. You may also notice squishy or hard swollen spots on your gums, which are pockets of pus. As gum disease worsens, these spots may become highly painful abscesses.
3. Persistent Bad Breath
Bad breath can be caused by many factors, but if yours persists, it could be a sign of gum disease. You may also have a consistent odd taste in your mouth that mouthwash and breath mints cannot relieve. Even if you are positive that you don’t have gum disease, it is worth calling your dentist, as most cases of bad breath are easily treatable.
4. Loose or Shifting Teeth
As gum diseases progresses, the gums will start to detach from the teeth, leaving bacteria-filled pockets. The bacteria can then destroy the support structures of the teeth, leading to loosening and shifting. You might notice a change in the way your teeth come together, known as your bite. This later-stage symptom means that tooth loss could be imminent. Call your dentist immediately.
Periodontal disease is serious and progressive. Left untreated, it can destroy your teeth. It also raises your risk for system-wide infections and even heart disease. Fortunately, proper care can halt even late-stage periodontitis. If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, make an appointment with your dentist. It is never too late to take control of your oral health.
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Holzinger Periodontics & Implant Dentistry is a father-daughter practice serving patients in Middletown and New Britain, CT. If you are seeking compassionate dental care from a team that treats each patient as an individual, contact us today at 860-347-8457 (Middletown) or 860-224-0433 (New Britain) to schedule your first appointment.