In the U.S. alone, over 47% of adults above the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Given the probability of developing this disease increases with age, about 70% of adults aged over 70 have periodontal disease. If untreated, periodontal disease, otherwise known as gum disease, can be increasingly dangerous to your health.
You see, periodontal disease increases the risk of Alzheimer’s, erectile dysfunction, and heart disease. What are the signs of periodontal disease? Gum disease starts when mouth bacteria combine with mucus and food particles to form plaque, which then hardens to form tartar.
Tartar causes gingivitis, and when gingivitis is untreated, it eventually progresses to periodontal disease. This disease can significantly damage the soft tissues and bone supporting the teeth, so you need to have it treated as soon as possible.
In this post, we’ll guide you through all the warning signs that you may have gum disease.
What Is Periodontal Disease
Gum disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the gum and the tissue surrounding the teeth. It is one of the most prevalent causes of tooth loss in adults. One of the major reasons why most people miss it is because it is painless.
When untreated, it can cause tissue damage and bone loss as well. Periodontal disease goes from mild cases such as gingivitis, which is essentially an inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria infections due to tartar and plaque buildup. Gingivitis progresses to chronic periodontitis, and early detection is imperative so you can avoid the repercussions.
What Causes Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease starts slowly when food gets trapped in between your teeth and gums. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, the build-up turns into plaque, and then plaque advances into tartar. When this plaque extends below the gum line, the gums get infected, and they become red and swollen, making it easy for them to bleed.
At this point, you have gingivitis, which can be reversible if you start brushing and flossing daily. You should also go for dental cleaning by a dental hygienist to ensure all the plaque and tartar are removed. It’s only when you ignore gingivitis that it advances to periodontitis, and at this point, your gums start pulling away from your teeth to form spaces called pockets.
It becomes easier for the plaque to spread below your gum line into these pockets, and given that your immune system will start to fight off the bacteria, the bone and tissue holding the teeth in place will start to break down as well.
If left untreated for a long time, the bone and tissue will be destroyed, causing your teeth to loosen from their place. It’s vital that you understand all the periodontal disease risk factors so you can avoid it entirely.
Signs You Have Periodontal Disease
There are several telltale periodontal disease symptoms, some of which we’ll elaborate on below. We’ll go from the mildest to the most severe.
Sore, Swollen, and Bleeding Gums
If you are experiencing aching or bleeding gums, there may be a chance that you have gum disease. In general, healthy gums don’t bleed when you brush or floss because there is usually no chance of plaque build-up. However, without regular brushing and flossing, the plaque builds up and irritates the gum, making them sensitive, swollen, sore, and susceptible to bleeding.
Given that plaque is bacteria buildup, it attacks the healthy gum tissue surrounding the teeth and destroys the fibers that attach the gum to the teeth. This causes major inflammation and irritation, leading to bleeding when you brush or floss. It is one of the most obvious signs of periodontal disease.
If you have bleeding gums, you should consult your dentist and make it a habit to brush and floss daily. The plaque will recede after a week or two, and if it’s advanced, the dentist will advise you accordingly.
When you look at your teeth in the mirror, do you notice that they have become longer than usual?
This is one of the most obvious signs of periodontal disease because they’re not supposed to look longer than they were. The only reason why they do is because of gum recession caused by periodontal disease.
When the bacteria eat away at your gum fibers, it causes tissue loss, and the gum starts receding away from the teeth. Receding gums can be a major health concern when the roots of your teeth are exposed because it usually leads to tooth infection, decay, and loss.
When the root surface of the tooth is exposed, it will cause you aesthetic concerns. You will most likely experience severe teeth sensitivity issues as well.
When it gets to the point where you have gum pockets, it becomes harder to remove food debris from those pockets by brushing or flossing. This, in turn, leads to the deepening of the pockets and worsening of periodontal disease.
However, it’s important to note that sometimes gum recession can be related to brushing too hard or using a hard-bristle toothbrush. This means that you should consult a professional dentist to determine the root cause of your dental recession.
Have you been experiencing uncomfortable sensations after consuming hot or cold drinks? If you have, this is one of the most common gum disease signs. What you are experiencing is dentin hypersensitivity, which is known as tooth sensitivity.
It is usually caused by a thin tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots. Sometimes gum recession can also lead to sensitivity. If your roots are exposed, then sensitivity can lead to pain, and you need to see your dentist immediately.
Persistent Bad Breath
One of the most obvious warning signs of gum disease is persistent bad breath, but you cannot get rid of it regardless of how you brush or what kind of mouthwash you use. This bad breath is usually caused by excessive bacteria, tooth decay, and gum disease. It comes from the smelly gases that the bacteria coating your teeth and gum releases.
The Most Obvious Signs of Periodontal Disease
If you have experienced any of the above signs of periodontal disease, it’s imperative that you take the initiative to see your dental practitioner immediately. Regardless of what stage your gum disease is, a professional dentist will find a way to fix it and get your smile back.
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