Gum Disease Danger Signs
Gum disease ranges in severity from redness and swelling of the gums (gingivitis) to a more severe infection (periodontitis). Gum disease symptoms are not always obvious until gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis.
Gingivitis is generally defined as an inflammation around a tooth, which occurs when plaque and tartar build up on the teeth. Poor oral hygiene is the main cause of periodontitis, and the condition is most likely to develop in adults aged 30 years and older. (1), (2)
Gum Disease Symptoms
Gum disease symptoms that can indicate periodontitis include:
- Pain: Pain or tenderness in your gums or pain in your teeth.
- Swelling: Swollen gums or gums that look red or purple can be gum disease symptoms. Healthy gums should look firm and pink.
- Taste and Smell: Persistent bad breath and an unpleasant taste in your mouth are possible gum disease symptoms.
- Space: Development of spaces between your teeth, or a change in the way your teeth come together when you close your mouth. In addition, receding gums can be among the early gum disease symptoms.
- Bleeding: Gum disease symptoms to watch for include bleeding gums when you brush or floss your teeth. (3)
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Many gum disease symptoms don’t appear until the disease is well-established, so it is important to know some of the risk factors for gum disease. Identifying risk factors and paying attention to oral hygiene can help you spot gum disease symptoms early and see your dentist as soon as possible. Risk factors associated with gum disease include:
- Smoking: Many studies have shown that smoking or using other tobacco products significantly increases your risk for gum disease. If you smoke or use other tobacco products and you notice some gum disease symptoms, quit or cut back on tobacco use and see a dentist as soon as possible.
- Genetics: If you have family members with gum disease symptoms or a history of gum disease, pay extra attention to your oral care routine and visit a dentist regularly for a professional cleaning and checkup.
- Hormones: Although more research is needed, some studies have suggested that hormones associated with puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can increase women’s risk for gum disease. Puberty, pregnancy, and menopause aren’t exactly gum disease symptoms, but women should be sure to pay extra attention to their oral care during these times. (4)
Gum Disease and Overall Health
Gum disease symptoms can signal other health problems in addition to gum disease. More research is needed, but some evidence suggests that gum disease symptoms can be associated with an increased risk of problems outside the mouth. The take-home message: If you have a chronic medical condition, watch out for gum disease symptoms, and see your dentist regularly to identify any gum disease symptoms as soon as possible. (1), (4), (5)