5 Symptoms of Periodontal Disease and Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Them

Almost half (42%) of American adults have periodontal disease, which increases their risk of various dental problems, including tooth loss. Periodontal disease develops when the bacteria in your mouth multiply, forming plaque and tartar on your teeth. When untreated, it penetrates beneath your gum line, causing inflammation and infection. 

Our team of talented and gentle dentists at Just For Your Smile in Potomac Village and Potomac, Maryland, and Tysons Corner and Vienna, Virginia, offer comprehensive dental care to keep your teeth and gums healthy. We know preventive care is critical to stopping gum disease before it starts. Knowing the warning signs can help you get effective periodontal treatment as quickly as possible. 

Five symptoms of periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is progressive and causes more severe symptoms at each stage. The five most common signs of periodontal disease include:

1. Chronic bad breath 

As the bacteria in your mouth multiply, they produce foul-smelling waste products. As a result, you have bad breath and a foul taste in your mouth. 

2. Red, swollen gums

Plaque and tartar help bacteria to get beneath your gums where they cause infection. As a result, your gums might become swollen and red or even slightly purplish. Your gums may feel tender, but the early stages of the periodontal disease typically don’t cause pain.

3. Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods

Your swollen gums also become sensitive and might bleed. Brushing, flossing, and sometimes even the pressure of eating hard or chewy foods can cause bleeding. If you notice your gums bleed, make an appointment with our team right away. Treatment at this stage can prevent more serious gum disease.

4. Receding gums

In the advanced stages of periodontitis, the bacteria break down your gums and pull them away from your teeth. In most cases, you won’t notice this separation, although your teeth start to look longer as your gums recede.

5. Pain

Eventually, as your gums recede, the bacteria eat away at your jaw bone. Your teeth become loose and shift position. As a result, your bite changes, and you develop jaw pain when you chew. 

What causes periodontal disease

Gum disease is due to a combination of a high sugar diet and poor dental hygiene. When you eat carbohydrates or other sugary foods, the sugars mix with your saliva, creating a film on your teeth. If you don’t brush and floss regularly, the film hardens into plaque. 

At the same time, the bacteria in your mouth metabolize the sugar like an all-you-can-eat buffet and release acids that erode your tooth enamel and lead to cavities. The plaque on your teeth holds bacteria and acid against your teeth, creating the perfect environment for the bacteria to multiply and penetrate your gums. 

Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. At this point, regular professional cleanings and improved at-home care can prevent your condition from worsening. However, without prompt treatment, plaque and bacteria spread below your gum line and trigger periodontitis. 

As periodontitis progresses, your gums break down, allowing the infection to invade even deeper. Ongoing inflammation erodes the bones that support your teeth.

Never ignore the symptoms of periodontal disease

Periodontitis is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. If you and your dentist identify the condition in its early stages, you can treat it and protect your dental health.

While at-home dental care can prevent gum disease, you also need to have routine dental cleanings and check-ups. Even with your best efforts, plaque can build up on your teeth, especially in hard to reach areas. 

If you’re due for a dental cleaning or check-up or have any warning signs of periodontal disease, call us or schedule an appointment online today. 

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