Healthy gums are an essential component of strong teeth, however many people dismiss signs of gum problems as nothing more than a temporary annoyance or inconvenience. This is a very dangerous habit to get into, as these signs (such as bleeding when brushing or increased sensitivity) are the gums way of telling you something is wrong in your mouth. Treatment for gum infections will depend on the severity of the infection, and there are different signs to look out when it comes to infected gums. In this post, we’ll highlight some common signs of gum problems and the types of gum disease and infections common in your gums so you know what to look out for.
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and is caused by bacteria build up around the gums. This is often due to poor oral hygiene but can also be made worse by smoking, stress, poor diet and nutrition and in some unfortunate cases it could be hereditary. As this condition is the very early stages of gum disease, you might not experience pain or discomfort, but you may have blood when you brush your teeth and some inflammation or swelling around your gums where they are infected. The best way to treat this is to make sure you are brushing and flossing to remove bacteria from around the gum and to visit your dentist for thorough cleaning.
The next stage of gum disease where the symptoms and consequences become more severe is periodontitis or periodontal disease, where the infection can move below the gum line and can start to adversely affect the bones and supporting tissues between your teeth and gums. Over time if left untreated, this condition can also result in painful gum abscesses and long-term damage to your jaw bone. The bacteria and toxins destroy the tissues which support the teeth, so gum recession is common, and over time the teeth may loosen and become at risk of falling out.
Signs of gum disease
If you start to notice any changes in your gums, you should talk to your dentist straight away. Gum disease is best treated when you catch it early on before it has time to develop into more complicated and serious conditions. Look out for any of the following:
- Gums that bleed when you brush them, or if you taste blood in your mouth
- Inflamed gums or areas of your gums which are redder than usual
- Sensitivity, irritated gums or pain
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Receding gums, which is when the roots of the teeth become exposed
Your dentist may recommend that you come in for a professional cleaning every 3 to 6 months if you have had problems with your gums in the past to keep on top of plaque build-up and inhibit bacteria growth. In the case of an infection, you may also be advised to use medicated mouthwashes or be prescribed a course of antibiotics, depending on the severity of your gum infection. If you manage your gum health yourself with regular brushing and flossing and have no obvious symptoms of gum problems, then you might find a visit to the dentist once or twice a year is sufficient to manage your overall oral health.