The conditions that cause us discomfort are often surprisingly sneaky. Gum disease is a common oral health issue that is easy to overlook.
Not only do we tend to focus more on tooth health than gum health, but gum disease is often painless, making it even more likely to go unnoticed. Think of it as an enemy secret agent who has infiltrated your mouth.
Seriously – the stakes are that high. Failing to spot this condition early on can have serious consequences, since it's one of the leading causes of tooth loss for adults.
Fortunately, if you play detective, you can keep a sharp eye out for signs of this nefarious intruder.
Gum disease, stage one: plaque attack
You may know gum disease by its sinister alias: gingivitis. As unpleasant as it sounds, this condition manifests as sensitive gum tissue, caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth and gumline.
Gingivitis refers to the early stages of gum disease. If your dentist diagnoses you with gingivitis, the treatment options are often minimally invasive. With a professional dental cleaning, followed up by a regular regimen of brushing and flossing, gingivitis can usually be reversed.
So far, so good – unless things take a turn for the worse.
Stage two: bone burrowing
Periodontitis is the more advanced form of gum disease. While periodontitis can still be treated, your dental professional may have to use more invasive techniques, like scaling and deep cleaning of the surfaces of your roots, or removing germs and plaque from beneath your gumline, according to the Mayo Clinic.
However, periodontitis doesn’t affect just your gums. It can also cause tissue and bone loss throughout the mouth. If this has already occurred, your dental professional may recommend that you see a dental specialist who is a periodontist, who can recommend more advanced procedures that help regenerate the bone and tissue you've lost.
Signs of gum disease
You can prevent the more advanced stages of the disease in surprisingly easy ways. Just maintaining a regular brushing and flossing routine goes a long way.
In the meantime, keep a sharp eye out for these seven symptoms:
- Swollen, red gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Constant bad breath
- Gums that have pulled away (recession) from the teeth
- Pus in between the teeth
- Changes in bite
- Loose permanent teeth.
Let's end on a note of caution – keep your guard up even if you think your mouth looks spotless. You may still have gum disease, even if you don't display any of these symptoms.
To give yourself the best chance at overcoming the disease, be aware of these common signs and keep up with your regular dental check-ups, which are essential for prevention and early detection.
Original content by Anne Maria Wynter