Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a gum infection. It’s often the result of poor hygiene, when too much plaque and tartar build up on your teeth. Periodontal disease is a common public health concern, with 42% of American adults experiencing some form of this oral health condition.
Unfortunately, advanced gum disease can cause irreversible damage, such as tooth loss. The good news is that gingivitis, the earliest form of periodontal disease, can be reversed. The key to restoring your oral health is identifying the first signs of the disease so you get prompt treatment.
Here, Kevin Miller, DDS, and our team at Dentistry in Paradise in Santa Barbara, California, highlight the top signs of periodontal disease and why it’s so important to recognize them.
What causes gum disease?
Plaque is a sticky biofilm of bacteria, and if it remains on your teeth and at your gumline, it hardens into tartar. Plaque and tartar irritate your delicate gum tissue, and when your gums are irritated, they may pull away from your teeth. This causes little pockets to form 一 periodontal pockets that collect more debris and bacteria.
With this in mind, it’s easy to understand why brushing your teeth and flossing are the best defenses against gum disease. It’s the best way to remove that sticky plaque before it hardens.
In addition to poor oral hygiene, other risk factors for gum disease include smoking, diabetes, medications that cause dry mouth, vitamin C deficiency, and hormonal fluctuations.
Signs of periodontal disease
Now that we've covered what periodontal disease is and what increases your risk of developing it, let’s look at the telltale signs that you’re dealing with it:
- Bad breath unrelated to food
- A bad taste in your mouth (which can be a sign of an infection)
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Pain when chewing
- Loose permanent teeth
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Receding gumline
- A sudden change in your bite
- Presence of periodontal abscesses
- Bone atrophy
Some of these symptoms overlap with other conditions. For example, a loose tooth could be the result of an injury, and tooth sensitivity could be the result of a crack or severe decay.
Regardless, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to see Dr. Miller. Whether the issues are related to gum disease or another oral health condition, he can get you the treatment you need.
The importance of knowing the signs of periodontal disease
The first stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is easy to treat. However, as periodontal disease progresses, treatment becomes more difficult and involved. Left untreated, the infection and inflammation can cause issues beyond your mouth.
Periodontal disease has been linked to serious health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Pregnant women with advanced gum disease are more likely to deliver prematurely or to give birth to low-birth-weight babies.
Knowing the signs of periodontal disease empowers you to seek treatment at the earliest signs of gum disease. This can help stop the infection from spreading or contributing to unwanted complications.
Once we’ve confirmed that gum disease is the source of your symptoms, Dr. Miller recommends the right treatment based on your symptoms, the severity of your gum disease, and any other underlying dental conditions. Potential treatments include:
- Scaling and root planing
- Medicated mouthwashes
Noticing some issues, but you’re unsure if they’re signs of gum disease? Don’t postpone getting dental care! Book an appointment at Dentistry in Paradise by calling us at 805-967-0272 or making your request through our online scheduling tool.