Most people understand how to build a foundation for good health. We know we should be eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, getting quality sleep, and working out. We also know what to avoid—smoking, excessive drinking, and chronic stress— in order to keep our bodies in top shape. However, there’s one piece of the formula that’s extremely important, and rarely discussed: your oral health. Perhaps it’s the way that physical health and dental health are addressed by separate entities, or the lack of information about the connection between oral health and overall health. No matter the reason, the fact remains that, in order to be truly healthy, you must mind your mouth as well as the rest of your body.
Left unchecked, periodontal disease (gum disease) can have major complications. It is associated with blood sugar regulation issues in diabetics, increased risk of respiratory infections, and higher likelihood of developing heart disease, just to start. And it’s not a rarity— the CDC estimates that gum disease affects as many as 47% of American adults, many of whom are not yet aware that the problem is there. If they are aware, they are likely not aware of the serious implications of untreated gum disease.
The problem is that gum disease can go undetected by the average person for a good deal of time in the early stages because it isn’t always painful or obvious. Here is a list of symptoms that you should be familiar with:
1. Red or swollen gums
Do you gums appear to be redder than usual, or do they look and feel swollen to the touch? This is a sign of inflammation, a trademark symptom of advancing periodontal disease.
2. Tender gums or blood in your spit when you brush your teeth
Another sign of inflammation is sensitivity in the gums, or the appearance of blood when you brush or floss.
3. Receding gums
If your teeth are beginning to look longer, you gums may be receding, another symptom of gum disease.
4. Sensitive or loose teeth
Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a number of things, but periodontal disease is one of them. If you find your teeth becoming increasingly sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, or to the touch (while brushing, for example), take note—it could be due to gum disease. If you teeth seem wiggly or loose, that is another symptom. One side effect of periodontal disease is the loosening of teeth due to the effect it has on bone structure in your jaw and the circulation to the roots of your teeth.
5. Chronic bad breath that does not improve when you brush or rinse with mouthwash
If you are experiencing bad breath that does not improve with brushing and rinsing, you need to consult with your dentist. Chronic bad breath could certainly be a symptom of gum disease.
6. Pain while chewing
If chewing has become painful or cumbersome, it could be a symptom of periodontal disease. Even if it isn’t, it’s something that really should be addressed as soon as possible, because it typically indicates a problem in the oral cavity that will need to be treated.
Periodontal disease isn’t something you want to ignore—your health depends on it. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. To learn more, visit Keith A. Kye, DDS, FAGD at https://www.kyedentistry.com/.
Dr. Kye cares for patients in Huntersville, North Carolina