A combination of signs and symptoms may be present, depending on what severity of gum disease you have. Typically the early signs of gingivitis involve minor irritation such as bleeding or swelling of your gums.
Healthy gums should not bleed. If you floss regularly and brush along the gum lines, bleeding is not normal. However, infrequent flossing may always result in your gums bleeding due to the development of gingivitis.
Swollen Red Gums
Gums that are red, puffy or swollen are a sign of infection. Just as if you had another area on your body that was infected, swelling and redness would occur, alerting you to the condition.
A bad taste in your mouth or bad breath may be a sign that there is biofilm or food lodged deep under your gums.
The loss of your gum attachment causes the gums to creep slowly down the root of the teeth.
As gum and bone loss occurs, your tooth has less stability. This may cause your teeth to shift into other positions or make them mobile.
When limited support structures are all that is holding your teeth into place, the delicate ligaments around your teeth can become strained.
Clear, white or yellow pus may begin to drain between your teeth and along the gum lines.
Stages Of Gum Disease
Gum disease starts out as mild gingivitis and progresses to different levels of periodontitis or periodontal disease. While all stages are part of the same disease condition, knowing how to identify gum disease developing in your mouth can allow you to be proactive about the treatment earlier on.
The beginning stage of gum disease manifests itself as gingivitis. This is when you notice your gums bleeding during flossing and may have swollen or red gums just near the borders. Because gingivitis is just the initial inflammation of gums, it can easily be reversed within about two weeks.
Early Periodontal Disease
When gingivitis goes untreated, your gums begin to break down around the teeth. Early symptoms will include persistent inflammation, bleeding, and bone loss seen on your dental X-rays. You may also start to see mild gum recession in some areas. Early periodontal disease starts out localized, but if left untreated becomes more generalized throughout the mouth.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
This more advanced stage of gum disease is easier to spot. If you haven’t dedicated a lot of preventive care to your teeth, or do not see your dentist regularly, it may have allowed your condition to worsen without you realizing it. By the time you have developed moderate periodontal disease, gum recession is evident and there may be signs of tooth mobility. You may also start to notice dark areas between the teeth, where the gums have faded away.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
The most severe form of gum disease is advanced periodontal disease. Once you have lost several millimeters of bone around the teeth, your teeth become mobile, show severe signs of recession, and may even fall out. Specialized professional care is needed to delay tooth loss.
As if having different severities of gum disease were not enough, there are also variations to further describe the classification of your gum disease:
- Localized Gum Disease – Restricted to a limited number of teeth in the mouth without having spread to surrounding teeth. Abnormal areas of bone loss are present in up to a few areas.
- Generalized Gum Disease– Affecting most of the teeth in the mouth with generalized loss of surrounding bone structure throughout the entire mouth.
- Necrotizing Ulcerative Gingivitis– An ulcerative condition that involves necrotic “punched out” tissue, combined with swelling of the lymph nodes.
- Hyperplasia– Thickness of gums associated with causes such as trauma, medication or irritation.
- Pregnancy Gingivitis– Some women experience hormonal imbalances during their pregnancy, which results in the inflammation and bleeding of their gum tissues. This is usually atypical of their normal oral health, and it subsides after the birth of their baby.
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