A Brief Guide To What Gum Disease Looks Like
Gum disease may cause problems like bad breath, pain, and even tooth loss. It’s a condition that can affect anyone, from teens to older people.
Gum disease is generally inflammation of the gums. As part of the mouth’s soft tissue, gums surround and support your teeth. When healthy, they look pink and strong. Untreated gum disease could become severe, making teeth lose or fall out.
In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about gum disease.
Let’s dive in.
Table of Contents
Causes of Gum Disease
The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene which enables bacteria in plaque to stick to the teeth and infect the gums. However several other factors enhance the risk of developing gum disease. Some of these risk factors include:
- Smoking or chewing tobacco inhibits the gum tissue’s ability to heal.
- Hormonal changes in menopause, pregnancy, and puberty usually correlate with a rise in gum disease. The increase in hormones makes the blood vessels within the gums to become more susceptible to chemical and bacterial attacks. At puberty, the prevalence of gum disease ranges between 70%-90%.
- Overlapping, rotated, or crooked teeth create more space for plaque to build up and are tougher to keep clean.
- Alcohol adversely impacts oral defense mechanisms.
- Cancer, and its treatment, could make a person more prone to infection and enhance the risk of gum disease.
- Mouth breathing may be cruel on the gums when they aren’t secured by the lips, leading to chronic irritation and inflammation.
- Diabetes mellitus affects circulation and the gum’s overall ability to heal.
- Improper nutrition, e.g., a diet low in water intake and high in sugar and carbs, will increase the build-up of plaque. A deficiency of essential nutrients like vitamin C will also impair healing.
- Poor saliva production.
- Stress destroys the body’s immune response to bacterial attacks.
- Medications like antiseizure medications enhance the risk of gum disease.
- Infrequent or lack of dental care.
Gum Disease Symptoms
As aforementioned, healthy gums are usually pink, strong, and keep your teeth safely in place. Do your gums bleed when you brush or even touch them? Get a check-up!
Since gum disease is NOT always painful, you might be unaware you have it. Therefore, it’s prudent to get routine dental check-ups.
Different Stages of Symptoms
1. Early symptoms
There are numerous symptoms of gum disease. The initial stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. Some of the symptoms in this stage include:
- Bleeding gums after flossing or brushing your teeth.
- Red and swollen gums.
2. Advanced symptoms
When gingivitis is untreated, the bone and tissues that support the teeth may also become impaired. This is referred to as periodontitis or periodontal disease. It’s generally a form of advanced gum disease.
Symptoms of periodontal disease may include:
- An unpleasant taste inside your mouth.
- Bad breath (halitosis).
- Gum abscesses (pus collections that accumulate under your teeth or gums).
- Loose teeth make eating hard.
3. Acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG)
Although rarely, a condition known as acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis may develop suddenly. In simple words, it’s like severe gum disease. The symptoms of ANUG are often more severe compared to those of gum disease and may include:
- painful ulcers
- bleeding, painful gums
- bad breath
- receding gums in between your teeth
- excess saliva in your mouth
- a metallic taste inside your mouth
- a high temperature (fever)
- problems swallowing or talking
Types of Gum Disease
You must already know the different types of gum disease. The above section has outlined the symptoms of each.
There are three primary types of gum disease: gingivitis, periodontal disease, and acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG).
What Is Gum Disease?
It’s the swelling, infection, or soreness of the tissues supporting the teeth. And, as aforementioned, there are different forms of gum disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
In most cases, gum disease is caused by an accumulation of plaque. This invisible layer of germs tends to form naturally on the gums and teeth. Plaque consists of bacteria, which release toxins that irritate and destroy the gums.
Different types of bacteria are found in the mouth. Therefore, managing plaque is a constant battle. It’s also prudent to brush and floss every day — and take regular trips to your dentist.
Is Gum Disease Contagious?
Most of the factors that contribute to gingivitis and periodontitis are dependent on the person. As of now, there’s limited scientific proof that gingivitis and periodontitis-causing bacteria could be passed down from parents to kids and between couples.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
Gum disease treatment focuses on facilitating the reattachment of healthy gums to teeth; minimizing swelling, lessening the risk of infection; and preventing deterioration of the disease.
Treatment options differ with gum disease stages, your reactions to earlier treatments, and your general health. Options may include nonsurgical therapies that regulate bacterial growth, and even surgery to restore supportive tissues.
You might also be wondering whether natural treatments or home remedies are effective for gum disease.
Some studies have shown the effectiveness of the following natural and over-the-counter treatments for gum disease:
- Hydrogen peroxide assists in killing bacteria when applied as a gel in a custom-fitted tray or as a mouthwash, but it can’t be swallowed
- Green tea contains antioxidants that alleviate inflammation in the body
- Baking soda that’s diluted in water could be used to brush and rinse the teeth and gumline to ultimately help neutralize the acids that inflame the gum tissue
- Warm salt water rinses may assist in soothing sore mouth tissue
- Oil pulling (rinsing or swishing): Although there has been limited evidence to prove that coconut oil or sesame oil can help lessen bacteria that bring about gum disease, it has become a recent trend. In some cases, people have reported improvement with this treatment.
What Does Gum Disease Look Like?
Typically, a person with gum disease will have at least one of the above signs and symptoms. So, what do all those types of gum disease look like?
As gingivitis develops, different complications may arise. And if you get periodontitis, you might develop receding gums or spots where the tooth’s root gets uncovered by the shrinking and diseased gums. Additionally, deep pockets might develop around the teeth. They usually trap food, debris, and plaque.
As periodontitis progresses, the person might lose gum tissue around the teeth and their teeth might become loose or even fall out. Such changes tend to develop very slowly or suddenly and can affect either several teeth or the whole mouth.
If the person becomes immune-compromised or rarely performs oral hygiene, then ANUG can develop. This is a painful condition where infected gums ulcerate, swell, and slough off dead tissue.
When it comes to dental implants, peri-implant disease happens where bacteria may cause irritation, destruction, and inflammation of the surrounding bone and gum much in a similar way that periodontal disease impacts the surrounding structures of teeth.
It’s also worth mentioning that you can get gingivitis or periodontal disease and not notice a single symptom or sign of the condition. As such, regular visits to a dental specialist are vital in establishing a patient’s risk level.
Summary: Importance of Dental Check-Ups
You should take routine dental check-ups to ensure that any problems with your gums and teeth can be detected and treated as early as possible.
Perhaps you’ve never encountered gum disease and have proper oral health. If so, you may only be required to visit your dentist every 1-2 years for a check-up.
You’ll have to visit your dentist more often if you’ve had complications with gum disease before. Your dentist will always advise when you should have your next appointment.
And if you have an enhanced risk of developing gum complications – for instance, if you have diabetes or regularly smoke – you may be advised to consider a regular check-up so your gums and teeth can be closely monitored.