Do I have gum disease?

Faye Donald DH&T Best Hygienist 2014 list the most common signs of gum disease.

11 and a half signs that you may have Gum Disease

The most recent national dental survey showed that 83% of us have some form of gum health problems and of these, over half are adults with significant gum disease.

Gum disease, also called gingivitis or periodontitis, is an infection caused by dental plaque bacteria that creep underneath the gums. The infection causes an inflammatory response that slowly erodes away the bone and the foundations holding the teeth in place. The gums then start to shrink, the teeth get wobbly and, if left untreated, abscesses develop and the teeth are lost.

Although in the latter stages of gum disease you may become aware of problems, in the early stages signs and symptoms rarely cause pain and can be far less obvious.

Here are the most common changes for you to look out for. If you notice any of the following, even if it’s only one, it may be an indication you have gum disease and you should visit a dentist or hygienist immediately.

  1. Bleeding gums. This is the most common sign of gum disease and is often painless. Even if it’s only pink staining on your tooth brush. Healthy gums shouldn’t bleed at all, even when brushed or flossed vigorously.
  2. Red or swollen gums. Healthy gums should be pink, tight and stippled (like orange peal) Gums that are red or have a blueish/purple tint to them or look swollen (particularly the triangles of gum between your teeth) are probably inflamed and the most likely cause is gum disease.
  3. Sore or painful gums. Gum tissue is designed to withstand the force of food crashing against it many times a day. Healthy gum tissue is incredibly tough and robust and shouldn’t feel painful to touch or painful when the pressure of a tooth brush or other oral hygiene aids is applied.
  4. White, yellow or grey sloughing/ulceration on your gums. This is often accompanied by painful and bleeding gums and can be a sign of a very destructive type of gum disease that requires immediate treatment.
  5. Blood on your pillow. If you notice blood on your pillow when you wake or if your gums seem to spontaneously bleed at any other time the most likely explanation is gum disease.
  6. Bad/foul smelling breath. Either that you have noticed or that someone close to you has noticed.
  7. Bad taste when eating. The bacteria involved in gum disease have a sulphur compound base. When this bacteria is disturbed (for instance when eating or cleaning) they will release a toxin/smell the same as that found in rotten eggs.
  8. Receding or shrinking gums. Especially if this is accompanied by bleeding when brushing or flossing. As the bone and foundations holding the teeth in place are eaten away by the disease, the gums often shrink back to follow the line of the shrinking jaw bone.
  9. Feeling that your teeth are loose. As the bone and gum support around the teeth is lost, there is less to hold them firmly in place and they may start to feel loose.
  10. Moving or drifting teeth. This is often most noticeable between the front teeth. As the support is lost, some teeth may start to drift apart or out of line with the others.
  11. Gaps or ‘black triangles’ appearing between the teeth. Again this will become noticeable as the foundations under the gums are lost and the gums starts to shrink back.
  12. Hard brown/yellow/black deposits on the teeth especially around the gum line and in between the teeth. This doesn’t always indicate gum disease is present but is most likely tartar or calculus which is a calcified bacteria and is a precursor to inflamed gums or gingivitis.

Most forms of gum disease if caught early enough and treated professionally can be successfully managed without the teeth being lost. If you have any of the above symptoms or are worried you may have gum disease contact the surgery as soon as possible.

Faye Donald

Dental Hygienist

DH&T Best Hygienist 2014

The Dental Awards Hygienist Of The Year 2014

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