You probably already know that bacteria — and the acid they secrete — lead to tooth decay and cavities. But did you know that these same bacteria also cause plaque and tartar and increase your risk of developing gum disease?
Advanced gum disease might not be on your radar of things to watch for, but it doesn’t show up overnight. There are many early warning signs of periodontal disease, and Dr. Mehrnoosh Darj and her dedicated team at Dr. Darj Dental know just what to look for during your routine dental exam and cleaning.
While we check for the early signs of gum disease during your exam, you can protect your oral health, too, by knowing the red flags you can spot on your own. In this post, we explore the symptoms of gum disease and why it’s important to act as soon as you notice them.
5 early signs of periodontal disease
Periodontitis — also known as gum disease — is a serious infection that compromises the health of your gums, teeth, and jawbone. The earliest and most mild form of periodontitis is called gingivitis.
Gingivitis is named for your gingiva, which is the part of your gums that support your teeth. You might suspect you have gum disease if:
1. Brushing makes your gums bleed
The soft tissue that surrounds your teeth forms a close seal around them, too. Of course, vigorously brushing with a hard brush can irritate this gum tissue. However, if you’re brushing with gentle pressure and they still bleed, it’s an indication that you’re dealing with gingivitis.
2. Flossing makes your gums bleed
Flossing removes plaque, tartar, and debris from between your teeth — an area that brushing alone can’t reach. It’s not uncommon for gums to bleed if you start flossing after you haven’t flossed in a while, but daily flossing should never cause your gums to bleed.
Tip: Try to refrain from snapping your floss against your gums. Floss should hug the base of each tooth in a “C” shape.
Whether your gums bleed when you brush or floss, seeking dental treatment early can help avoid the unwanted complications of advanced gum disease.
3. Your gums are swollen and red
Healthy gums should be pink, but a bright red hue can be a sign of gingivitis. As plaque at the gumline causes irritation, your gums become swollen, puffy, tender, and even red or purplish in color.
Most likely, you’ll notice bleeding gums before you notice tenderness and discomfort. This is another reason to seek dental care when you notice bleeding gums — even if they don’t hurt just yet.
4. You have chronic bad breath
While eating certain foods — like garlic or onions — can contribute to bad breath, food isn’t the only cause. Odor-causing bacteria — the same bacteria that cause gum disease — can make your breath smell bad. This bacteria might even leave a bad taste in your mouth.
If you struggle with bad breath and it doesn’t go away with brushing, let us know. Bad breath can also be a sign of other oral infections.
5. Your gums pull away from your teeth
As gum disease progresses, your gums become more and more irritated and eventually pull away from your teeth, creating a receding gumline. However, even before that, you might start to notice little pockets forming where your tooth meets your gum. These are called periodontal pockets.
Why you shouldn’t ignore gum disease symptoms
Despite the name, gum disease doesn’t just impact your gums. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress. Advanced periodontitis is one of the leading causes of tooth loss in adults.
Not only is gum disease serious, but at-home brushing won’t be able to remove tartar, which is hardened plaque. Root scaling and planning at the dentist’s office can remove the tartar from your teeth and roots and allow your gums to heal and reattach.
How to prevent gum disease
The best defense against gum disease is visiting your dentist regularly and a maintaining solid at-home care routine, including:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled brush
- Flossing daily
- Using mouthwash
If you notice any signs of trouble, we’re here to help you stop gum disease in its tracks. For answers to any questions you have about dental symptoms or to schedule an appointment, call Dr. Darj Dental at 915-213-4097 or book online.