Gum Disease Symptoms: What Are The Signs?

Have you noticed blood oozing from your gums while you are brushing? This is among the earliest symptoms of gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease. Bleeding gums can also accompany other activities such as eating or flossing. Another early sign to watch out for is inflammation — this is when the gums appear red, puffy, and tender. 

"Inflammation or discomfort is caused by bacteria that accumulates around the teeth and proliferates when it is not mechanically removed by flossing, brushing, and your six-month dental cleaning appointment," Mazen Natour, a prosthodontist in New York City, told Reader's Digest.

The good news is that these effects can usually be reversed if you get them checked out by a dentist and practice good dental hygiene habits. However, if you leave gingivitis untreated, the bones and tissues that support your teeth could also be affected in addition to the gums. Once this happens, you may have periodontal disease or periodontitis, a more advanced form of gum disease.

Bad breath and an unpleasant taste in the mouth are among the symptoms of periodontitis. Specifically, take note of a scent similar to alcohol or rotting apples. This is caused by the bacteria penetrating the gum tissue, where your toothbrush and dental floss are unable to reach them.

Lance Vernon, a senior instructor at Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine, also noted certain changes with your teeth that could indicate a problem — if you notice your permanent teeth becoming loose as if it is about to fall out, for example. In other cases, teeth may slightly shift out of place too.

"Some people notice they have a little space between their teeth that wasn’t there before, or their front teeth might flare forward or backward," he told Prevention. Tooth sensitivity is also something that should be addressed — while this can occur as a result of brushing too hard, it could be a sign that your gingivitis is progressing into periodontitis. 

Vernon explained that the disease causes your gum to recede. "When gum tissue recedes, it exposes the root of the tooth, which is less hard than the outer enamel, causing sensitivity," he said.

Diagnosis and treatment are important as gum disease can result in complications such as tooth loss. Research has also suggested that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis may enter your bloodstream and damage other parts of the body.

To reduce your risk, it is essential to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day. Dental visits should be scheduled every six to 12 months for cleanings and to make sure you detect any problems early. You may also receive guidance and resources to quit harmful habits such as smoking and teeth grinding.

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