Are you experiencing symptoms of gum disease? You might be and don’t even know it. In fact, most people in the early stages of gum disease don’t really experience pain. As it advances, ignoring symptoms allows them to progress and can lead to further damage to your mouth and gums as well as the rest of your body.
WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
Periodontitis is inflammation around your tooth. Microorganisms, like bacteria, stick to your teeth and multiply causing swelling. Left untreated, it will eventually cause tooth and bone loss and can increase your risk of stroke, heart attack and even Alzheimer’s disease. Periodontitis can also impact your pregnancy putting your baby’s health at risk. Severe periodontitis can increase your blood sugar. People with diabetes are at a higher risk for diabetic complications because their body has increased periods of high blood sugar.
SYMPTOMS OF GUM DISEASE
Gum disease symptoms can include:
- Inflamed (swollen) gums which recurs
- Gums are bright red, sometimes looking purple
- Gums hurt when touched
- Gums recede, making teeth look longer
- Extra spaces appear between the teeth that look like black triangles
- Pus may appear between the teeth and gums
- Bleeding when brushing teeth and flossing
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Halitosis or bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Your “bite” feels different because the teeth do not fit the same.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF GUM DISEASE
- Gum disease is most often due to poor or lacking oral care. If you don’t brush twice a day, floss at least once a day and get regular cleanings, you’re definitely at risk for periodontitis.
- Dental plaque forms on your teeth – this is a pale-yellow film that develops naturally on teeth. It’s formed by bacteria that try to attach themselves to the tooth’s smooth surface.
- Brushing teeth gets rid of plaque, but it soon builds up again within a day or so. This is why regular brushing and flossing is so important.
- If it’s not removed, within two or three days it hardens into tartar. Tartar (or calculus) is much harder to remove than plaque. Getting rid of tartar requires a professional cleaning – you cannot do it yourself.
- Plaque can gradually and progressively damage your teeth and the surrounding tissue. At first, you may develop gingivitis – inflammation of the gum around the base of the teeth.
- Persistent gingivitis can result in pockets developing between your teeth and gums. These pockets fill up with bacteria.
- Bacterial toxins are our immune system’s response to infection starting to destroy the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. Eventually the teeth start becoming loose, and can even fall out.
WHAT ARE RISK FACTORS FOR GUM DISEASE?
Along with poor oral hygiene, following are risk factors for developing gum disease:
- Smoking– regular smokers are much more likely to develop gum problems. Smoking also undermines the efficacy of treatments.
- Hormonal changes in females– puberty, pregnancy, and menopause are moments in life when a female’s hormones undergo changes. Such changes raise the risk of developing gum disease.
- Diabetes– patients who live with diabetes have a much higher occurrence of gum disease than other individuals of the same age
- AIDS– people with AIDS have more gum disease
- Cancer– cancer, and some cancer treatments can make gum disease more of a problem
- Some drugs– some medications that reduce saliva are linked to gum disease risk.
- Genetics– some people are more genetically susceptible to gum disease, so being vigilant with your oral health is a must.
WHAT IF I HAVE SOME OF THE SYMPTOMS OF GUM DISEASE?
If you have even a few of these symptoms of gum disease, you should see your dentist or a periodontist. He or she can diagnose whether or not you have gum disease. If you do, they will work with you to put together a treatment plan specifically for you. Treatment for gum disease has come a long way in recent years with several minimally invasive, pain-free treatments. You only get one set of teeth and taking care of them is crucial to your overall health, so the sooner you seek treatment, the better.
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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding gum disease.