Gum disease is a common problem that many of us suffer from without even knowing it. It is important to identify the early signs of gum disease before the problem is to worsen.
What are the signs of gum disease?
Many patients often present to me complaining of bleeding gums. Many of whom thought it was normal to have bleeding gums and it is just “something that I’m born with.” This is a myth. Gums often bleed due to the accumulation of plaque caused by poor oral hygiene. Often people think that bleeding gums are a result of brushing too hard. This is not the case. When plaque is left around the gum line for prolonged periods of time, the gum tissues become inflammed. This can be seen as a dark red colour as well as swelling. If the gums are constantly inflammed and not cleaned properly this can lead to bleeding from the affected area. Left alone this can result in gum tissue breakdown and the separation of the gums from the teeth. As bone is slowly lost around the tooth this will ultimately lead to loosening of the teeth and tooth loss!
Bad breath (halitosis) is often caused by gum disease as well. Bacteria from plaque which sit on the teeth and gums can bring out unfavourable smells.
If you experience sensitivity to hot or colds it could be a sign of gum disease. Sensitive teeth that are associated with gum disease are caused by exposed roots. These roots become exposed because the gums have receded due to inflammation. Before gums recede they typically are red in appearance and this is a warning sign combined with sensitivity (refer to photo below).
If you have teeth that are loose, you may be well into the latter stages of the disease. This occurs when the gums have receded so much that bone loss has also occurred and no longer supports the tooth the way it once did.
So what can we do about it?
As mentioned, gum disease starts from poor oral hygiene. It is vital to have proper tooth brushing and flossing techniques. Remember it is essential that we not only focus on cleaning our teeth, but our gums also (including the gum margin at which the gum meets the teeth). Refer to my previous posts regarding flossing and brushing.