Periodontal disease starts slowly, with symptoms that seem relatively minor. You might bleed a bit when you floss or notice that your gums look redder than usual. Left untreated, though, gum disease can have serious consequences for your oral health as well as your overall health. This is why early diagnosis and treatment is important. Here are the most common signs that you have periodontal disease.
Changes in the Gums
The first signs of periodontal disease are changes in the gums. Symptoms include:
- Receding gums
- Tenderness and pain
- Discharge from between the gums and teeth
Gums that are healthy don’t bleed during brushing or flossing and they’re never red or purple in color. During your routine dental exams, we can identify these early warning signs of gum disease and provide treatment before you suffer irreversible damage. At this stage, periodontal disease can be reversed with a simple procedure called scaling and root planing.
While not everyone who has bad breath has gum disease, most people who have gum disease have bad breath. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection and the same bacteria that damage your gums also causes a foul odor. The bacteria collects below the gum line, where it can’t be removed by brushing or flossing.
Sometimes you might suspect you have bad breath, but you don’t know for sure. If gum disease is causing you to have bad breath, you’ll notice an unpleasant taste in your mouth. This taste may go away temporarily after brushing or eating, but come back shortly after.
When you read about gum disease, you often hear about “pockets.” What does this mean?
As periodontal disease progresses, your gums start to recede. One consequence of this is that gaps form between your gums and the roots of your teeth—these are pockets. Tartar and plaque can connect in these pockets, which causes them to deepen.
There is no way to clean these pockets yourself—you need a professional deep cleaning called scaling and root planing to remove the plaque and tartar and smooth the surface of the roots to allow your gums to reattach, closing the pockets.
In its later stages, gum disease begins to impact your teeth as well. These symptoms include:
- Increased sensitivity, especially to sweet and cold foods
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that appear longer due to gum recession
- Pain when eating
- A feeling that your teeth no longer fit together when biting down
- New gaps forming between your teeth
Many of these changes are either permanent or require extensive restorative work to repair; without treatment, your teeth may eventually start to fall out. When patients have late-stage gum disease, we first treat the active infection, then we address the changes to your teeth and gums to restore both your oral health and the appearance of your smile.