A healthy person is typically thought of as someone with a fit, athletic body. The body parts that come to mind are toned abs, strong arms, and tight legs. The mouth is not a body part that is usually tied to health, but it should be. If you have a healthy mouth, it can have a strong, positive effect on the health of the rest of your body.
How Gum Disease can Ruin Your Mouth
One way that a mouth falls into poor health is when it develops gum disease. Gum disease (or periodontal disease/periodontitis) occurs when bacteria in your mouth forms plaque, which can later harden into tartar (also known as calculus). After hardening into tartar, the plaque can no longer be removed through brushing and flossing. You need a professional cleaning to get rid of it.
When there are longer periods of time between brushing, bacteria is given the opportunity to grow, and spread throughout the mouth.
This slimy substance found on your teeth may seem like a small problem, but if left on its own, it will lead to much greater health problems.
If that tartar is not treated in an adequate amount of time, the gums can become inflamed.
Once the inflammation begins, the gums can start to separate from the tooth. This can cause pockets form which collect debris and can become infected. The bacteria then releases toxins which start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold your teeth in place. If the separation is severe enough, it leads to the deterioration of bone and tissue in your mouth. Bad stuff, indeed.
Gingivitis & Gum Disease
Gingivitis is usually an indicator that gum disease is on its way. On its own, gingivitis is technically the mild form of gum disease.
On the one hand, most individuals develop gingivitis at some point in their lives and have only mild symptoms, such as red and swollen gums that bleed easily. Gingivitis is reversible, thankfully, with proper professional treatment. Without treatment, however, gingivitis can worsen. The bacteria in plaque can build, resulting in inflamed gums.
Several factors that can contribute to this disease are crooked or misaligned teeth, smoking, genetics, stress, and certain medications.
Even if you practice healthy dental habits daily, it’s important to be aware of the signs of unhealthy gums. Although gum disease is a common condition, it is almost entirely preventable through practicing good dental hygiene.
Signs of Gum Disease
Typically, if you catch the inflammation fast enough, you can treat your mouth and prevent further damage. But how can you know if you’re at the beginning stages of gum disease?
Here are 6 warning signs of periodontal or gum disease:
- Bleeding gums – One of the first signs that periodontal disease is beginning to develop is gingivitis, demonstrated by sore and reddened gums. Bleeding, which can often be confused as the result of brushing too hard or flossing, is also a sign of gingivitis and is commonly ignored. While gingivitis is always a condition developed prior to gum disease, it does not have to lead to this disease. Making it a point to visit the dentist will help prevent further spreading of bacteria and the development of gum disease.
- Gums pulling away from teeth – If you smile into a mirror and notice your gums pulling back away from the base of your teeth, this is a warning sign. Sometimes you notice this first when moving your tongue around your mouth.
- Swollen and inflamed gums – If you notice redness in your gums, or they feel swollen and tender, this should set off alarms. A body’s immune system is the first to respond to bacteria presence. When a bacterium is present in your mouth, inflammation and redness will occur around your gums. This is a sign that your immune system is at work, containing the infection and preventing it from spreading. However, there are other factors that contribute to the effectiveness of one’s immune system, which is why some people are more prone to gum disease than others.
- Pus in between teeth – This one is definitely kind of icky. Pus is a sign of infection, and should be treated accordingly. If you have gum disease, pus will often show up between your teeth and gums when you press them. As the disease progresses, small pockets begin to form in the gum line. These pockets are undetectable to the eye, but as they spread will cause noticeable pain and swelling. Discharge from the gum tissue will also occur as the pus pockets multiply.
- Bad breath – As periodontal disease is caused by the overgrowth of bacteria, you may often have a bad taste in your mouth, causing bad breath. This is typically also associated with gingivitis.This is one of the more embarrassing warning signs because it’s something other people notice. Because of the embarrassing effect, this is often the symptom that gets people to actually visit a dentist.
- Change in tooth arrangement – This symptom could take a few different forms. Sometimes you notice that your bite doesn’t fit together the way it used to. Other times, you start to see separations between your teeth. If you have partials or dentures, you might notice they don’t fit like they used to. This can be a sign of bone loss which can occur at a later stage of periodontal disease as the jawbone begins to deteriorate, causing teeth to loosen and shift.
Beyond tooth loss, the bacteria behind your periodontal disease can eventually make its way into your bloodstream and cause damage to other parts of your body. Gum disease has even been linked to respiratory ailments, arthritis, coronary artery disease, and complications due to diabetes.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene: brush your teeth at least twice each day, floss regularly, and make sure you get regular dental checkups. This can significantly improve your chances of successful gum disease treatment and lower your risk of developing it in the first place.
If you develop any of these warning signs, you should set up an appointment with a dentist immediately.
Our specialists at Alpine Dental Health office have extensive experience in dental health and can help to diagnose and treat this disease. To schedule your appointment, please contact our office at (303) 825-5527.