Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an incredibly prevalent condition among adults but, if patients don’t regularly visit the dentist, symptoms can often go unnoticed until it is quite advanced, particularly as many patients don’t experience discomfort. 

Being aware of both the common and less frequent gum disease symptoms can help you slow its advancement and improve your overall oral health


What Causes Gum Disease?

Before we explore the numerous symptoms of periodontal disease, it’s worth taking a moment to learn what gum disease is and why it occurs.

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround your teeth. It is caused by a build-up of plaque -a sticky film of bacteria- on the teeth. If plaque is not removed by daily brushing and flossing of the teeth, it can harden into tartar under the gumline. Tartar forms a protective shield for bacteria and, while plaque can be removed with brushing at home, tartar requires professional dental cleaning.


Gum Disease Symptoms

Gum disease is a pernicious enemy; many of its symptoms do not appear until it has reached an advanced stage when it is more challenging to treat. However, there are some early warning signs that you can, and should, look out for. Let’s take a look at the early and advanced signs of periodontal disease.


Early Symptoms of Gum Disease

The early, milder stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Remember that gum disease is not always painful; however, it’s essential to treat it promptly to avoid more serious oral health issues. Some of the initial symptoms can include:


Advanced Gum Disease Symptoms

If left untreated, gingivitis can develop into a more serious stage of gum disease: periodontitis. The signs of periodontitis are similar to those of gingivitis but also include:

  • Collections of pus between teeth and gums (gum abscesses)
  • Loose teeth (and eventually tooth loss)
  • An unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Pain when chewing
  • New spaces that appear between the teeth
  • Sores in the mouth
  • Change in the shape of the tooth bite

Acute Necrotising Ulcerative Gingivitis

In rare cases, acute necrotising ulcerative gingivitis, or ANUG, can suddenly develop. This non-contagious gum infection is more common among those who have a pre-existing condition that compromises the immune system. The symptoms of ANUG are typically more severe than those of gum disease and include:

  • Acute gum pain
  • Gum bleeding with little or no provocation (sometimes profuse)
  • Extremely bad breath
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty talking or swallowing
  • Excess saliva
  • A fever


Diagnosis of Gum Disease

If you have regular appointments at your dental practice, your dentist will spot the signs of gingivitis or gum disease. Nevertheless, if you think you may be experiencing some of the symptoms, it’s imperative that you have a checkup. 

During your appointment, your dentist or dental hygienist will examine your gums for any signs of inflammation of other gum disease symptoms. They may measure any pockets around the teeth with a probe, and in some cases, they may wish to take an x-ray to check for any bone loss.

At this appointment, you may be asked about your medical history, specifically about conditions or lifestyle factors that can contribute to periodontal disease such as smoking or diabetes.


Prevention and Treatment of Gum Disease

The most significant thing you can do to prevent gum disease is to maintain good oral hygiene practices. This means:

  • Brushing your teeth for about two minutes a day, twice a day.
  • Using a toothpaste with fluoride; ask your Dental Spot dentist for recommendations.
  • Flossing your teeth daily to remove plaque from between your teeth.
  • Making regular trips to the dentist for checkups.
  • Avoiding habits that encourage gum disease, such as smoking and eating sugary foods.

In addition to these preventative measures, your dental professional may recommend some treatments to control the infection. For instance:

  • Using antiseptic mouthwashes. Make sure you discuss this with your dentist because they can have some side effects if not used properly, such as staining your teeth.
  • Having a scale and polish to remove plaque and tartar.
  • Having root planing (debridement) may be suggested in some advanced cases.


The Final Takeaway

Now that you are aware of the symptoms and causes of gum disease, you are in a better place to prevent it. Still, remember that many of these symptoms don’t appear until gum disease is quite advanced, so the best way to catch it is through regular visits to the dentist.

If you feel nervous about having a dental appointment, or fear you may be judged, rest assured that at Dental Spot, your comfort and oral health are our priority. Our experienced team of professionals will be happy to discuss your concerns and treatment options. For more information, or to book a consultation, contact us today on (02) 9158 6115.

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