You might not spend that much time thinking about your gums, but they play an important role in both your oral health and overall health. Your gums help to hold your teeth in place and provide some protection for the most sensitive areas of the teeth.
When you have gum disease, the gums start to pull away from your teeth, making it easier for bacteria to get in between the tooth and the bone. This bacteria can lead to severe infection and tooth decay. In the most advanced cases, people with gum disease need to have their teeth removed.
In the earliest stages, gum disease is often reversible. As it advances, treatments can help manage symptoms but might not successfully reverse the condition. If you think you might have a problem with your gums, pay attention to the following warning signs of gum disease.
Bleeding gums might be the warning sign that people most often associate with gingivitis or periodontal disease. When the gums are healthy, they won’t become irritated or bleed when you floss or brush your teeth.
When there’s a buildup of bacteria under or around the gum line, bleeding can occur. In some cases, bleeding only happens when you brush or floss. If there’s a considerable amount of buildup, bleeding can occur when you eat certain types of food. In some cases, your gums can bleed even if you aren’t actively brushing, flossing or doing anything that can stimulate the gums.
Receding gums, or gums that have begun to pull away from the teeth, is another of the most common warning signs of gum disease. How can you tell if your gums are receding? Your teeth might start to look longer as the gums get shorter.
Bacteria responsible for periodontal disease can cause gum recession by causing the gum tissue to break down. The bacteria can also cause the bone to wear away so that it is eventually unable to support the teeth.
Although gum disease is a common cause of receding gums, it’s worth noting that it’s not the only thing that can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth. Vigorous tooth brushing can also contribute to gum recession, as can hormone levels. Your genes might also contribute to receding gums.
Sensitive or Loose Teeth
As the gums pull away and the bone begins to break down, there’s not as much support available for your teeth. A warning sign of a more advanced form of periodontal disease is a tooth or teeth that feel loose. You shouldn’t be able to wiggle your teeth in your gums when the gums are healthy.
Receding gums expose the roots of your teeth, which does more than make them loose. Gingival recession can also make your teeth more sensitive because the delicate roots are exposed. If it hurts to brush your teeth or you feel pain or discomfort when eating or drinking, it can be a sign of periodontal trouble.
Although you can have bad breath without gum disease, it can also be a sign that there’s trouble in your gums. The bacteria that contribute to gum disease often have an unpleasant odor. When bacteria builds up in your mouth as a result of untreated periodontal disease, you might notice an increase in bad breath or that it’s more challenging to make your breath smell nice.
A warning sign of an advanced stage of gum disease is an abscess on the gums. A periodontal abscess can develop in the pocket that forms between the teeth and gums when a person has advance periodontal disease. An abscess forms when pus collects into a pocket, usually as a result of a bacterial infection.
Abscesses can be pretty painful and are often considered a dental emergency. It’s important for a dentist to treat the abscess to remove the bacteria and prevent complications from developing.
Treating an abscess typically involves draining the pocket, deep cleaning the area and prescribing antibiotics to kill off any lingering bacteria.
What You Can Do About Gum Disease
When it comes to gum disease, it pays to be proactive. Regular teeth cleanings and check-ups at your dentist’s office will help to prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease. Regular check-ups can also allow your dentist to treat and reverse gum disease in the early stages.
If you do have signs of more advanced periodontal disease, your dentist can work with you to put together a plan for treatment. Treatment options include deep cleaning the teeth and gums and restoring lost gum tissue.
Dr. John Paul Gallardo is a periodontal specialist in the Miami area who also offers dental exams and cleanings. He can recommend options that are right for your needs. To schedule an appointment in Miami, FL, call 305-547-8687 today.