For the most part, patients usually feel like they have their dental routine down: brush twice daily, floss, rinse, and see your dentist on a regular basis. When problems creep in, they can often catch people by surprise, and patients are not quite sure how to handle them. After all, you’ve been doing everything right…right?
There are many people walking around today with the beginnings of periodontal (gum) disease, and they probably don’t even know it. Gum disease symptoms begin with mild irritation of the gums. Left unnoticed and untreated, periodontal disease can lead to serious damage, and eventually tooth loss.
If you’re wondering how periodontal disease starts, there is one little word you’re probably familiar with: plaque. Plaque is in your mouth everyday, and the bacteria in plaque is mostly harmless. However, some strains have been shown to be the main culprit of gum disease. It is vital to remove this plaque each and every day by—you guessed it—brushing and flossing.
Symptoms of periodontal disease
How do you know if you have symptoms of periodontal (gum) disease? Here is a simple checklist of symptoms:
- Redness of the gums
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing/flossing
- Pain when chewing
- Bad breath (constant)
- Receding gum line
- Sensitive gums and/or teeth
- Loose teeth
- Sores in mouth
To see the progression of gum disease, watch this animation from the American Academy of Periodontology
Types of periodontal disease
- Gingivitis – The mildest form of periodontal disease, gingivitis is known for causing red, swollen gums that are prone to bleeding. At this point, however, the symptoms might be mild enough that you don’t even know you have it. The good news is that this stage is quite reversible. It may only take a visit to the dentist for a cleaning, and a renewed commitment to good oral hygiene to get rid of the infection. Early detection is key to making gingivitis so treatable, and regular visits to the dentist will help to identify any emerging gum issues.
- Periodontitis – This is the other end of the spectrum—the most advanced form of gum disease. If you reach this stage, there is real damage happening. The longer gingivitis and periodontitis go untreated, the more permanent the damage becomes. The symptoms we identified above simply become more and more severe at this point. Sores can develop that are quite painful. Depending on how advanced the disease is, there are treatments available that can help to control it. Ask us for help, if you are experiencing any issues that are of concern.
While there are many Americans walking around with some stage of periodontal disease, there are some factors that increase your risk factors for gum disease. Anything from being pregnant to being anemic, being stressed, taking antidepressants, or dealing with an autoimmune disorder or heart disease can increase your risks for periodontal diseases. If you are facing issues like these, make sure you keep the conversation going with us on your next visit, so that we can help prevent the additional complication of gum disease.