Watch Out for These 5 Subtle Signs of Gum Disease

Don't let gum disease sneak up on you

Gum disease can lead to tooth loss if not treated.

Gum disease is a serious condition that can impact your long-term oral health. However, it often starts with minor symptoms you may not even notice.

Watching for signs of gum disease can allow you to act quickly and find the prevention and treatment you need to put a stop to it before it gets worse.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is among the most prevalent health conditions in the US, with 46% of adults over 30 showing at least some indications. Severe gum disease affects 9% of American adults, with potentially serious oral health complications.

Gum disease is an infection of the gums caused by oral bacteria. These bacteria are naturally occurring and only become an issue when they grow out of control. As bacteria levels increase, they contribute to both gum disease and tooth decay.

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease; as such, you may not notice any symptoms.

As bacteria affect more of your gum tissue, gum disease can advance to periodontitis. This stage is a serious infection of your gums and can eventually lead to tooth loss and other complications. However, even periodontitis can be hard to spot.

The fact that gum disease can sneak up on you makes it a serious threat if you aren’t keeping up with routine dental appointments, maintaining proper dental hygiene, and watching for symptoms. Knowing the subtle signs of gum disease and reaching out to your dentist when you detect them can help you avoid the most serious impacts.

1. Bleeding Gums

Bleeding gums are a telltale sign of gum disease. When you brush and floss, healthy gum tissue will be able to stand up without any issues. Gum disease weakens the gums, leading to potential bleeding, particularly during flossing.

Bleeding during flossing is one of the earliest signs of gum disease. If you haven’t noticed any other symptoms, you likely have gingivitis, rather than advanced gum disease. Even so, you should make it a point to contact your dentist immediately.

2. Halitosis

Halitosis is the medical term for bad breath. It’s among the most common (and embarrassing) signs of gum disease.

The bacteria responsible for gum disease produce an unpleasant odor as they metabolize food in your mouth. The more bacteria you have in your mouth, the more noticeable the smell.

Temporary bad breath could have any number of causes, including something you ate. If you have persistent bad breath, however, high bacteria levels may indicate that you’re dealing with gum disease.

3. Change in Your Gum Color

Healthy gums are a distinct pink color. Any deviation from that color likely means something is affecting the health of your gums, and you should reach out to your dentist to find out what it is.

Reddening and darkening of the tissues are signs of inflammation, a common gum disease symptom. You may also notice your gums turning white, purple, or black, which may indicate severe gum disease or other serious oral health conditions.

4. Receding Gums

As gum disease weakens your gum tissue, pockets can form between your gums and teeth. Your gums can start to recede from your teeth, which eventually causes your teeth to appear longer, as more of their surface is exposed.

Gum recession is a serious symptom of gum disease. Not only does it affect the appearance of your smile, but it also creates deep pockets that allow bacteria and plaque to avoid being removed by brushing and flossing.

At this stage, you’ll likely need deep cleaning and root planing (and potentially even gum surgery) to stop progression to restore your gum line.

5. Changes in Your Bite

As gum disease progresses, the infection can spread to surrounding tissue. This can have serious long-term oral health complications, including jaw bone loss.

Infection can spread to the bone, causing weakness and deterioration. It’s possible for the teeth to shift their position, which you might notice when your upper and lower teeth come together.

You may notice teeth becoming loose or wiggly, which is a sign of serious bone deterioration around the tooth. Eventually, the affected teeth will fall out. Any noticeable change in your teeth or the way your bite comes together is a sign you should visit your dentist as soon as possible to find out what’s wrong.

What you can do about gum disease.

If you’ve noticed any of these signs of gum disease, don’t hesitate to reach out to Oxley Comprehensive Dental. We’re your New Bern family practice for gum disease prevention and treatment. Schedule an appointment today to find the preventive measures and treatment options to stop gum disease and maintain your oral health.