Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

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Did you know that 12 million Americans have lost all their teeth to decay or gum disease? It’s a scary statistic, but there’s good news. Gum disease can be reversed, and tooth loss can be avoided.

Gum disease develops when harmful bacteria overtake the good bacteria in your mouth. The bacteria evolve from plaque to tartar and move from the teeth to below the gum line. This creates pockets where the bacteria reside and multiply which leads to a variety of symptoms that progress over time.

Stages of Gum Disease

The three stages of gum disease are (1) gingivitis, (2) periodontitis, and (3) advanced periodontitis. In many cases, patients don’t realize they have gum disease until immediate and more extensive treatment measures are needed.

To avoid experiencing the consequences of gum disease, be sure to attend regular dental cleanings every six months and maintain good oral hygiene habits, such as:

  • Brushing in the morning and evening
  • Flossing daily
  • Using a dentist-approved mouthwash
  • Eating properly
  • Avoiding tobacco

During a regular dental appointment, your dentist will look for periodontal pockets, loose or shifting teeth, and bone degeneration. In most cases, these signs are only noticeable to a dental professional. However, there are symptoms that you can look for at home.

Here are the six most common signs and symptoms of gum disease:

1.    Swollen, painful gums

Irritated gums are one of the most common signs of gum disease. To eliminate other causes, try swishing saltwater around in your mouth. If the swelling lasts more than two or three days, contact your dentist for an exam.

2.    Bleeding gums

Toothpaste commercials often refer to gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease, as “pink in the sink.” Bleeding gums are a telltale sign that something isn’t right. However, it could also be a sign that your toothbrush is too stiff, or you are brushing too hard. Your gums may also bleed if you’ve just flossed for the first time in a while.

If you can rule out the other causes of bleeding gums, be sure to schedule a dental cleaning.

3.    Halitosis

Persistent bad breath that doesn’t go away by using mouthwash or a saltwater rinse could also indicate gum disease. The periodontal pockets could be expelling a bad odor that needs to be addressed immediately. Some dentists use minimally-invasive laser periodontal therapy to clean out these pockets.

4.    Longer teeth

If you notice your teeth look longer than usual, don’t assume they’re growing. It’s more likely that the pockets of bacteria are pulling your gums away from your teeth. This can lead to dental sensitivity and requires intervention from your dentist.

5.    Shifting teeth

Once the gums pull away from your teeth, they have a less solid foundation. The teeth may begin to shift and change the way your bite fits together.

6.    Abscesses

Abscesses, or sores, develop when the bacteria become trapped under the gums. These can cause severe discomfort; they can even discharge pus between the teeth. Dental abscesses pose a serious health risk. Contact your dentist immediately if you believe a dental abscess has developed.

Gum Disease Risk Factors

Poor oral hygiene is the main cause of gum disease, but certain life stages, health problems, and habits can raise your risk of developing gum disease. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Stress
  • Medications

Contact Your Dentist Today

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, call a dentist near you today to schedule a dental exam.

Our Atlanta dentist is prepared to treat any of these gum disease symptoms with advanced technology and conservative treatments. Call 404-577-6620 today to schedule an initial consultation.

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