Woman Flossing | Gum Issues

Could changes in my gums be a sign of a bigger issue?

Changes in your gums can indicate that there is something wrong and the signs shouldn’t be ignored. Our gums have the ability to serve as a canary in the coal mine for many different issues with your oral health. Although the best way to spot and quickly address issues with your gums is to ensure you’re visiting your dentist regularly, there are some signs you should keep an eye out for.

Types of Gum Disease

Gum disease comes in many different forms, ranging in severity. The first and most common form of gum disease is known as gingivitis. When your gums are healthy, they will be pink and firm. If your gums become red, swollen, bleed easily, or are sore, it’s possible you may have developed gingivitis. The good news about gingivitis is its reversibility. By seeking cleaning and care from your dentist and practicing good oral hygiene through brushing and flossing, gingivitis can be reversed.

Periodontitis is a gum disease that has advanced beyond gingivitis. This type of gum disease not only affects gum tissue but also spreads below the gum line, affecting your teeth, deteriorating jaw bone, and can lead to tooth loss and jawbone atrophy. Some of the symptoms may include chronic bad breath, receding gums, and gingival pockets which may contain pus as a result of infection.

Periodontitis itself can come in several different forms. Aggressive periodontitis is when the progression of the disease progresses quickly. All of the negative impacts of periodontitis happen at a much faster rate. Chronic periodontitis is the most common form where the deterioration happens at a relatively slow pace. Periodontitis caused by other health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease is known as systemic periodontitis. Another form of gum disease common in people suffering from malnutrition, immunosuppression, and HIV is necrotizing periodontal disease. Necrosis is the death of living tissue meaning certain parts of your gums and jawbone are deprived of nourishment needed to stay healthy.

Signs to look out for

As mentioned, many of the issues associated with gingivitis and periodontitis can be prevented through good oral hygiene. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Additionally, it’s important to also floss at least once a day to remove any remaining debris in your teeth. This debris can build up and become plaque which can lead to gum disease. There are a few signs to look out for that may indicate there’s a problem with your gums:

  • Gums that are swollen and red
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth, also known as receding
  • Pus in between the teeth
  • Change in the way you bite
  • Loss of permanent teeth

It’s important to reiterate that even if your gums appear to be normal and healthy, it’s still possible to be harboring gingivitis or periodontitis. It’s entirely possible for gum disease to be asymptomatic. The best way to prevent gum disease from getting out of control is to make frequent trips to your dentist. If you need a visit, feel free to contact our office and we’ll help to get you on a path to achieving your oral health goals.

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