Most patients understand that they need a dentist to diagnose and make recommendations for gum issues. Having said that, it is good to have an idea of what the visible signs of gum disease. Gum disease is the second most common dental health issue for adults in the U.S. It isn’t because the disease is inevitable or difficult to prevent. On the contrary, most people develop severe periodontal disease because they missed the early signs. Catching them could have warned them of impending trouble. Today, we examine some of the visible changes that can occur due to early gum disease, as well as other symptoms that might not be as immediately obvious.
Do your gums bleed even when you gently brush your teeth? The occurrence is common, though rarely accompanied by physical discomfort. Many people consider it normal and harmless. Unfortunately, those people are wrong. Bleeding is not a normal function of healthy oral tissue.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) gum disease affects more than half of the American adult population. It is the number one cause of adult tooth loss. Gum disease often remains for life once it develops, and if not controlled with regular care, it can have a negative impact on the rest of your health, as well.
The Story of Gum Disease
The idea of a relationship between your oral and physical health is not a new concept. In fact, scientists around the world have studied the oral-systemic connection for decades, and the results prove that maintaining good oral health can have resounding effects on your physical well being. Studies show that oral bacteria seeded into the blood steam contributes to a number of systemic illnesses.
The beginning stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, is marked by red, swollen, and bleeding gums. The inflamed condition is a response to a bacterial infection that results from excessive plaque buildup along your gum line. Aside from irritating your gums, some of these germs can manipulate your immune system’s inflammatory reaction. Fooling your immune system allows oral bacteria to survive, but the inflammation continues as long as the germs remain. In time, the unchecked infection works to destroy your gum tissue and the bone that supports your teeth. The lack of boney support for your teeth will eventually lead to their loss.
If your gums bleed, get it checked
Bleeding gums when brushing are infected gums. Many people ignore this common occurrence. What most don’t realize is the germs in your mouth are also entering your bloodstream. It is normal for bacteria to reside in your mouth.
It is not normal for the bacteria to build up to the point that it attacks the gums. Studies have shown that the presence of infectious oral bacteria can accelerate inflammatory heart disease. This supports the theory that your oral health extends beyond your teeth and gums. Do not ignore the signs that something is wrong. Many well known celebrities, such as Whoopi Goldberg, have suffered from ignoring their issues.
What Is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is the common name for periodontal infection. It is the first stage of periodontal disease. It involves excess amounts of oral bacteria camping out underneath your gum tissues. Gingivitis is the only reversible stage of gum disease, and treating it as soon as you notice it with a deep cleaning could save you from having to manage gum disease for the rest of your life.
What You Should Look Out For
As your gums become more irritated by harmful oral bacteria, gingivitis can exhibit symptoms such as:
- Red, irritated-looking gums, sometimes localized to a specific area
- Inflammation in certain areas of your gums, or throughout all of your gum tissue
- Chronic, increasing mouth odors
- Darkening patches of gum tissues
- Periodontal pockets (spaces between your teeth and your gums caused by gum recession)
- Increasing tooth sensitivity as your teeth roots are exposed by gum recession
The Telltale Symptoms of Gum Problems
As gingivitis settles into your gums, you may notice the tissues becoming red and inflamed. You might also notice some bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth, or taste it when you’re eating. These signs indicate that your gums have become infected, and that you should visit your dentist for treatment as soon as possible. If caught and treated early, gingivitis may be stopped before more serious gum disease develops. If left untreated, it will slowly advance to advanced periodontitis, the most serious form of gum disease.
Why Your Gums Change Appearance
As the name suggests, gum disease affects the soft gum tissues that surround your teeth roots. The disease is the result of chronic infection in your gums, which are caused by excessive buildup of harmful oral bacteria. As the infection develops and matures, the color of your gums can become red, swollen, and highly irritated. The more severe gum disease becomes, the darker your gum tissues may become.
Other common signs of advanced periodontitis
There will be swelling and changes in the color of your gums. The disease can also cause the tissue to recede from your teeth roots. The recession is not obvious at first. As the periodontal pockets grow deeper, you will have receding gums and root exposure. You might also notice increasing sensitivity in your teeth roots as gum recession exposes them, as well as bleeding in your gums whenever you brush and floss your teeth.
What puts you at a higher risk of having gum problems
Diabetics and smokers are the two classes of patients that we see most frequently diagnosed with gum problems. Smoking is ranked by the American Academy of Periodontology as the worst of the risk factors.
Find Out More About Treating Gum Disease
If you notice any visible changes to your gum health that might indicate gingivitis or gum disease, then schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible. To learn more, schedule a consultation by calling Lake Forest Dental Arts in Lake Forest, IL, at 847-234-0517. We also proudly serve residents of Chicago and all surrounding communities in the Chicago Metro area.