Gum disease symptoms
Gum disease is a progressive disease that affects a large majority of adults in the United States. The CDC estimates that as many as half of Americans over the age of 30 have some form of gum disease, with rates advancing sharply with age. The fact that it is a common ailment, however, does not mean that it isn’t serious – in fact, advanced gum disease (referred to as advanced periodontitis) is a serious illness that can not only threaten the health and viability of your teeth but has also been linked to a number of other serious health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, and even stroke.
What should I look out for?
As a progressive disease, the symptoms can vary to a large degree. The earliest stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, most commonly presents in the form of tender, swollen gums that may bleed when you brush or floss. This is due to the infection that is beginning to affect the gums – like any other infection, it can cause pain and inflammation as the tissues begin to respond to the bacteria that begin to multiply in the tissues they’ve penetrated.
When the infection that begins in the gums begins to advance lower into the gum line into the bone, small pockets of more advanced infection begin to develop and damage both soft and hard tissues alike. This stage of gum disease is called periodontitis, and typically presents with more complex symptoms, as well. At this stage you may notice visibly swollen gums and parts of your gums that are starting to pull away from your teeth. Your teeth may be sore or even start to feel loose at this stage of gum disease.
Left untreated, periodontitis will inevitably turn into advanced periodontitis, which is very damaging not only to the gums but to the teeth and can ultimately result in their complete and total decay. Symptoms at this stage would be very pronounced, including loose and weakened teeth, persistent bad breath, and even the feeling that your teeth don’t fit together the way they used to.
What should I do if I notice the signs and symptoms of gum disease?
If you notice any of the signs or symptoms of gum disease, it is very important that you make an appointment to be seen by your dentist as soon as possible. She or he will first do a thorough examination, determine if gum disease is present and, if so, treat it promptly. Caught in the initial stages, gum disease in the form of gingivitis can be effectively reversed via a thorough cleaning of the teeth, whereby the plaque that has hardened into tartar is removed, as this is the substance in which the bacteria are present. At this point, maintaining good oral hygiene and regular dental visits will keep gum disease at bay. The more advanced stages of gum disease, however, cannot be reversed; they can only be treated to prevent the disease from spreading further. Remember: the sooner you heed the warning signs of gum disease and seek treatment, the better the chance you have of stopping gum disease in its tracks.
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