Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an inflammation that starts in your gums and can potentially lead to severe health problems. This condition has three main stages: gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.
In the earliest stage of gum disease, bacteria and dental plaque cause gum inflammation and bleeding. If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, causing your gums to pull away from the teeth and create pockets. Periodontal pockets accumulate food residue and dental plaque, potentially leading to gum and jawbone deterioration. In advanced periodontitis, these pockets deepen, putting you at risk of loose teeth and tooth loss.
Gum disease can occur if you neglect to brush and floss your teeth properly to eliminate dental plaque and food residue. Common risk factors for gum disease include autoimmune diseases, diabetes, cracked fillings, genetics, and bad habits like smoking. Aging can also put you at risk of gum disease as more than 80% of people over the age of 70 are affected.
Keep on reading to learn seven warning signs that indicate that you may have gum disease.
1. Bad breath
Bad breath can occur due to your food choices, tooth decay, or other health issues. However, if your bad breath continues for a long time it may be a sign of gum disease. Stinky breath can be caused by bacteria that accumulate in gum pockets and causes inflammation.
2. Bleeding gums
If you can spot blood in your sink after brushing or flossing your teeth, it may indicate that you’re brushing or flossing too aggressively, but it can also be a symptom of gingivitis. Consider visiting a dental specialist to determine the real culprit of your bleeding gums. A dental specialist can also teach proper brushing and flossing techniques and may recommend a certain toothpaste or toothbrush designed for sensitive teeth and gums.
3. A bad taste in your mouth
Poor dental hygiene is the main culprit of a bad taste in your mouth. If you don’t floss or brush your teeth regularly, it can lead to the onset of gingivitis, which can cause a bad taste in your mouth. Other health problems like acid reflux, hepatitis B, and respiratory infection can also lead to bad breath, but if it’s persistent, visit a dental specialist to check it out.
4. Changes in your bite
If you’ve noticed that your lower and upper teeth no longer fit together in quite the same way, periodontal disease may be the cause. Periodontal bacteria cause your gums to pull away from the teeth which makes your jawbone vulnerable to infection. This can lead to loss of density and volume in your jawbone and potential teeth shifting.
5. Gum recession
Gum recession can be caused by numerous factors including aging, aggressive brushing, and most commonly – gum disease. Periodontitis can destroy gum tissue and the underlying jawbone that holds your teeth. This can potentially lead to severe problems like tooth loss.
6. Loose teeth
Loose teeth are typically common in children and if you notice any looseness as an adult it should be a cause for concern. Loose teeth, pain when biting down, and changes in the bite can all indicate that periodontal bacteria has already been damaging the roots of your teeth and supportive structures under your gums. It’s best to consult a dentist about available treatment as soon as possible.
7. Sore and swollen gums
If your gums have become swollen or hurt while eating, schedule a visit to a dental specialist. The most common cause of swelling in gums is an oral infection like periodontitis, especially if swelling is persistent and gets worse with time. To soothe your gums before visiting a doctor, rinse your mouth with a saltwater solution and use a cold compress to alleviate the swelling.