Gum disease, when left untreated, can cause a host of dental problems. In fact, gum disease is one of the biggest factors in tooth loss. As the disease undermines the tooth’s support structure, the tooth becomes loose and weak. Eventually, the tooth falls out or is pulled out or broken by forces that would not normally harm your teeth. To prevent advanced gum disease from ruining your smile, watch out for these four signs that you may have a problem.
1. Bleeding gums
Bleeding gums is the first sign of gum disease. Most people initially notice their gums bleeding when they brush their teeth. If brush your teeth too hard, causing damage to the gums, you can expect them to bleed. This is not necessarily a sign of gum disease, but may lead to gum disease if you continue to do it. When gently brushing your teeth with a soft brush, however, you should not experience bleeding. If you do, then there is a good chance you have developed early stages of gum disease. Bleeding gums can also be a sign of other illnesses, such as diabetes or blood clotting disorders, so make sure to see a health professional as soon as you notice the bleeding.
2. Discolored gums
If your gums are healthy, they should be a uniform pink color and a firm texture. If your gums look red or purple or appear swollen it is a sign of gum disease. Look closely at the areas around and between your teeth. In early stages of gum disease these areas are the first to show signs. If they are red and puffy you should visit a dentist as soon as possible.
3. Loose teeth
As gum disease advances it can move into the surround bones and ligaments. The infection damages the bone and ligament tissue, undermining the support structure of your teeth. In a healthy adult, the teeth should be firm and stable. If you can wiggle any of your teeth it is a sign that the supporting tissue has been damaged. Ignoring this sign of gum disease almost guarantees tooth loss.
4. Bad breath
There are many causes of bad breath; bacteria on the tongue, kidney disease, poor diet and gum disease are just some of the causes. Recent research suggests that 90% of bad breath is caused by oral bacteria. Plaque buildup under the gums is one of the main causes. Your dentist offers treatments that can reduce or eliminate this buildup. Along with traditional cleaning methods, lasers can be used to target and remove plaque. Gums and mints may cover up the bad breath, but they do not treat the underlying cause. It may be embarrassing to talk about, but ignoring persistent bad breath could put your health at risk.
If you notice any of these signs of gum disease, visit your dentist as soon as possible. Early intervention can save your teeth and prevent the need for more costly treatments in the future.