The words no one ever wants to hear: “You have gum disease.” It sounds scary, and it can be serious, but in many cases it’s reversible as long as you are keeping an eye out for the signs and symptoms and work to reverse its progress as soon as you can.
The mildest form of gum disease is low grade gingivitis, a simple inflammation of the gums that can be reversed by flossing and brushing daily and receiving regular cleanings by a dental professional. But when left untreated, gingivitis may advance to a condition called periodontitis, in which the gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets where bacteria love to live. Here the toxins from the bacteria can break down bone and connective tissue and eventually lead to tooth loss – something no one wants. So what are the signs and symptoms you should be looking out for in order to avoid these conditions?
Keep an eye on your gums. If they become red or swollen, if they are visibly receding (and your teeth appear longer), or if they are tender or bleed easily, see your dentist as soon as possible. If it hurts to chew, if your teeth become more sensitive to hot and cold, or if you have loose teeth, you may have gum disease. Persistent bad breath is also a sign.
It’s important to look for these signs, and it’s good that most of them are pretty obvious. The key is to catch gum disease early, while it is reversible, in order to avoid having to go through some of the more serious procedures that can be necessary if your gum disease progresses past this point. So brush and floss daily, get professional cleanings twice a year, and you (and your gums) will remain healthy and happy!