Although most people are aware that bleeding gums and bad breath are amongst the earlier indicators of gum disease, you may not be aware of the later warning signs. Learning more about them may prompt you to make an appointment with a periodontist - a dental professional who specialises in gum disease.
Your gums are more red than usual
When the bacteria responsible for periodontitis infect your gums your body responds by initiating its inflammatory cascade. Part of this process requires drawing additional blood flow to the affected area, which then causes redness.
If your gums look redder than usual it's worth considering whether there's a lot of inflammation in the area. Alongside symptoms such as bleeding and tenderness, this almost always means that gum disease is present. At this stage, there's a risk that the infection has spread from your gums to surrounding tissues, including your bones and teeth. As such, your periodontist may need to use intensive techniques to remove the infection.
Your gums are growing smaller
When gum disease advances without treatment the bacteria present may cause damage to your gums' tissue. As a result, they'll grow smaller. You may hear your dentist refer to this as receding gums.
Receding gums often occur gradually, which means you might not notice the symptoms until a hygienist or dentist highlights them at your next appointment. However, if you do want to watch out for them at home, things to look for include:
- Teeth that appear to be growing longer
- Pain in a particular area
- Teeth that are becoming loose in one or more areas
In the earlier stages of gum tissue loss, a deep cleaning treatment may be enough to resolve the issue. However, if you're showing signs of nerve root exposure or loss of supporting structures your dental team may recommend gum surgery to preserve your existing teeth.
Your teeth feel different when you bite
When gum disease occurs in the areas of your mouth you can't easily see it's sometimes difficult to notice the warning signs. If they advance to the stage where your soft tissues no longer provide your teeth with the right structural support, they may move around in your mouth. As they become looser your bite can feel different. This is a symptom that occurs over time and it can arise from other oral health problems too. However, it's always a good reason to consider a periodontist referral if you want to keep your natural teeth.