Your teeth aren’t the only things in your smile that can experience issues. Gum disease or periodontal disease can harm your smile and even your overall health. If your gums are diseased, harmful bacteria in the mouth can enter your bloodstream as they bond to the platelets in your blood, where clots can then form. Should these clots travel to your brain or heart, you can have a stroke or heart attack.
Your first goal should be to brush and floss every day to remove harmful plaque. Brushing at least twice a day or after meals, along with flossing gently at least once daily, helps protect your pearly whites and gum tissue from gingivitis, where ligaments attaching your gums to your teeth deteriorate. Staying on top of your daily dental routine, and keeping an eye out for problems that are beginning, is a winning strategy for maintaining your smile. It’s also the most cost-effective!
Prevention is your best bet because chronic gum disease doesn’t take long to damage your smile. Spotting problems early is when conditions are easy to treat or even reverse! We want to make sure you know the main symptoms of gum disease so you can recognize problems early and stay on top of your oral health.
Your gums are bleeding: Neglecting your flossing routine allows harmful bacteria to collect under the gums, where they cause inflammation and bleeding in the tissue. It is not normal and will only worsen if left untreated.
Red, swollen or sore gums: Healthy gums are pink, and along with bleeding, these indicators are telling you your gums are in trouble, even though you may not feel any pain with them.
Changes in how your teeth fit together: Gum disease also affects how your teeth meet when you bite and chew because the gums are pulling away from teeth, forming pockets. It can make your teeth look longer as the gum tissue deteriorates. It is also hard to keep these pockets clean as oral debris becomes trapped in them.
Loose teeth: If your teeth are feeling loose or shifting, gum disease is likely the culprit!
Chronic halitosis: If your breath smells bad or there’s an unpleasant taste in the mouth that doesn’t go away, you likely have gum disease.
Tooth Sensitivity: If the gums are not treated early enough, they can pull back from your teeth (receding gums) where they damage the bone and loosen teeth. As your gums continue to recede (exposing more of the tooth), you’ll likely notice a sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages and even breathing in the cold winter air. If the root surfaces of the tooth become exposed, there’s an increased risk of decay and sensitivity in the tooth. It means your coffee, tea and smoothies may be challenging to drink.
If you notice these signs, you will want to check with your dentist to determine the extent of the gum disease happening. A strong indicator is if you see blood when you brush or eat, or even without touching your gums.
If you have type 2 diabetes because of high blood sugar, you may be more vulnerable to gum disease and vice versa. If you notice headaches and mental fog, are always thirsty and running to the bathroom, lose weight unexpectedly, and are always tired, you may have diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes is as much a problem for your smile as it is for your overall health.
Regular, professional dental cleanings and exams are as crucial to your oral health as your day-to-day brushing and flossing. You’re literally on the front line of gum defense! Be sure to clean your tongue (where bacteria like to collect) to keep it off your teeth, gum, and tongue surfaces.
If you notice the signs of gum disease or you have advanced gum disease, please seek help as soon as possible. It’s never too soon to maintain and save your gums!
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