When it comes to the health of their smile, many people only consider the condition of their teeth. However, the health of your gums is a major contributor to your dental health. In fact, one of most destructive oral health condition to watch out for is periodontal disease (or gum disease). Gum disease is essentially a bacterial infection caused by plaque. Without treatment, the gums form deep pockets, detach from the tooth root and eventually cause tooth and bone loss. Gum disease has also been linked to stroke, heart disease, diabetes and premature birth.
Gum disease is highly treatable, especially when addressed at its early stages. Unfortunately, gum disease often goes unnoticed. Therefore, these five warning signs of gum disease are important to know if you want to avoid its serious consequences:
- Red, Puffy Gums: Since gum disease is an infection, the body’s immune system tries to fight it by sending antibodies to attack the bacteria. This process causes inflammation (swelling) and a dark red color to be seen within the gum tissues.
- Bleeding Gums: If your gums are healthy, they should not bleed on a regular basis. If your gums bleed after you brush and floss, you may have weakened gum tissues due to infection.
- Tooth Sensitivity: Sharp pain when you eat or drink something hot or cold is an indication of tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is primarily caused by exposed tooth roots, or when the gums have receded or pulled away. Infected gums can cause this to happen.
- An Abscess: In gum disease, the gums detach from the tooth and form deep gaps (called periodontal pockets). Pus can collect in this space and a painful abscess can form. At this stage, your gum disease needs immediate attention to prevent the acceleration of surrounding bone loss.
- Loose Teeth: Without proper support from healthy gum tissue, the affected tooth can lose stability. This is a late and serious sign of gum disease, as you are now in danger of losing the tooth.
As mentioned previously, the key to saving your teeth and protecting your overall health from gum disease progression is to treat it early. At Mitzi Morris DMD, we closely monitor your gum health at your routine dental exams. If signs of gum disease are present, we take a proactive approach to eradicate the bacterial infection and restore your gums to health. If you are concerned about the condition of your gums, don’t wait. When it comes to treating gum disease, time is of the essence.