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5 Early Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease

There’s an old mantra in the world of dental care: Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Prevention is always easier than correction when it comes to medicine. The majority of oral health problems can be prevented, or managed, with daily routines of brushing, flossing, and making smart choices about the foods you eat.

But when not managed properly, dental problems can spiral out of control and create a range of uncomfortable and irritating issues in our mouths. Many of these can be reversed, but periodontal disease brought on by poor oral hygiene can easily lead to more severe complications that will require extensive treatment—complications such as oral infection, periodontal pockets, and gums recessed so deeply that they require surgery to correct.

Trust us—you don’t want to mess around with those problems! This is a part of why we at Wellness Centered Dentistry focus on your total wellness and aim to educate our patients on proper at-home care, which is a cornerstone of what we commonly refer to as "preventative dentistry." Fortunately for us, our mouths are usually pretty vocal (pun intended) about when things are amiss. Keep the following symptoms in mind as a barometer for your oral hygiene:

1. Red, swollen, or sensitive gum tissue

Healthy gums are pink, firm, and not sensitive to light pressure. If your gums are red, particularly near the gum lines between and around your teeth, consider it an early warning sign that something is amiss. Inflamed gums are often one of the first responses our body has to an unhealthy oral environment. Puffy or sensitive gums can often be resolved by simply improving your brushing technique—something with which any member of our dental team will be happy to assist you!

2. Bleeding along the gum line

Clearly, bleeding gums are a sign of trouble. Some bleeding is common when you brush too hard or floss for the first time in months, but this type of bleeding should subside rather quickly. If your gums bleed regularly or bleed as a result of gentle touches, it’s a sign that the tissue is weak and not connecting properly to the tooth.

3. Chronic bad breath

It sounds a little strange, but bad breath can be a clear indicator of an unhealthy mouth. Unless we’ve recently eaten, bad breath is usually caused by the bacteria in our mouths. Even the healthiest mouths will have some bacteria, but persistent odors (even after brushing and flossing) likely means that your mouth has deep-seated bacteria that isn’t getting cleaned out.

This is often the case when gums recede and pockets in the gum form, as bacteria tends to get trapped in these areas.

4. Receding gums and deepening of spaces between teeth

Mild gum recession is natural as we age, but if your gums recede quickly or recede to the point where they’re sensitive, it’s likely a sign of gum disease.

Gum recession can expose the nerves near the roots of our teeth and create chronic pain that will need professional dental care to correct. Gum recession is often accompanied by sensitivity, bleeding, and bad breath. If you’ve noticed that more tooth is exposed along the edges of your gum line than you’re used to, let us know right away so you can be checked for more significant issues.

5. Formation of periodontal pockets

When periodontal disease is left unchecked, gum tissue recedes far enough to allow small pockets to form. These are known as periodontal pockets, which can act as reservoirs for bacteria. This bacteria can eat away at your gums and even advance under the gum tissue, creating significant risks of infection and tissue loss. When left untreated, periodontal pockets may require gum surgery to correct.

Prevention is Key!

An ounce of prevention in dental care can be worth thousands of dollars saved from expensive therapies and oral surgeries—not to mention the time spent in the dental chair! It’s important to be able to recognize the early warning signs of periodontal disease and take action when they appear. If you think you may be at first for periodontal disease, be sure to voice your concerns at your next oral hygiene exam, or give us a call to set up a consultation!

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