Could you be one of the millions of people who have gum disease and don’t know it?
9 Symptoms of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is often silent, meaning symptoms may not appear until an advanced stage of the disease. However, warning signs of periodontal disease include the following:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums, or other pain in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
- Sometimes the only way to detect periodontal diseases is through a periodontal evaluation. Make an appointment today.
Causes of Gum Disease
Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. Periodontal disease can affect one tooth or many teeth. The main cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth. However, factors such as the following also affect the health of your gums.
- Smoking/Tobacco Use
- Puberty, Pregnancy, and Menopause
- Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth
- Other Systemic Diseases
- Poor Nutrition and Obesity
- Smoking/Tobacco Use- Tobacco use is widely known to be linked with many serious illnesses such as cancer, lung disease, and heart disease, as well as an increased risk for periodontal disease. Recent studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
- Genetics- Research has shown that up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. Despite aggressive oral care habits, these people may be six times more likely to develop periodontal disease. Identifying these people early may help them keep their teeth for a lifetime.
Puberty, Pregnancy, and Menopause in Women – A woman’s health needs are unique. Though brushing and flossing daily, a healthy diet, and regular exercise are important for oral health throughout life, there are certain times in a woman’s life when the body experiences hormonal changes, such as puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause that can affect many of the tissues in the body, including the gums. During these particular times, extra care is needed. Your gums can become sensitive, and at times react strongly to the hormonal fluctuations. This may make you more susceptible to gum disease. Additionally, recent studies suggest that pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low birth weight babies.
Stress – Stress has been linked to many serious conditions such as hypertension, cancer, and numerous other health problems. What you may not know is that stress also is a risk factor for periodontal disease. Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal diseases.
Medications- Some drugs, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medicines, can affect your oral health. You should notify your dental care providers of all medicines you are taking, and of any changes in your overall health, especially if you are experiencing dry mouth.
Clenching or Grinding Your Teeth – Has anyone ever told you that you grind your teeth at night? Is your jaw sore from clenching your teeth when you’re stressed? Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.
Diabetes – Diabetes is a disease that causes altered levels of sugar in the blood. Diabetes develops from either a deficiency in insulin production (a hormone that is the key component in the body’s ability to use blood sugars) or the body’s inability to use insulin correctly. According to the American Diabetes Association, approximately 16 million Americans have diabetes; however, more than half have not been diagnosed with this disease. If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk for developing infections, including periodontal diseases. These infections can impair the ability to process and/or utilize insulin, which may cause your diabetes to be more difficult to control and your infection to be more severe than a non-diabetic.
Other Systemic Diseases – Diseases that interfere with the body’s immune system may worsen the condition of the gums.
Poor Nutrition and Obesity – A diet low in important nutrients can compromise the body’s immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection. Because periodontal disease is a serious infection, poor nutrition can worsen the condition of your gums.