What are the signs of gum disease?
Can gum disease be reversed?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial tooth infection, and it's a common concern for adults. It can be caused by plaque buildup, smoking, changes in metabolism or hormone levels, or certain medical conditions like diabetes. While teenagers may develop gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, most people don't show any signs of serious gum disease—periodontitis—until they are in their 30s or 40s. Men are more likely to develop it than women. Luckily, treatment is easy if it's identified in its early stages, so gum disease is curable.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum
Persistent bad breath, loose teeth, inflamed gums, sensitive gums, or gums that bleed easily are all signs that you may have gum disease. If you have gum disease, it may be painful to chew, your teeth may feel loose, and you may have receding gums (often meaning your teeth look longer!).
Stages of Periodontal Disease
When plaque is allowed to develop and remain on teeth, it hardens into tartar, which only a professional cleaning can remove. If plaque and tartar are not removed, they begin spreading below the gum line, which pulls away from the teeth. Bacteria thrive in the space that's created between the gums and teeth, causing gum disease. In general, there are two stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis. The main symptom of gingivitis is red, swollen gums that are easily prone to bleeding. This mild form of gum disease can be reversed through daily brushing and flossing, along with regular professional dental care.
- Periodontitis, which is a more serious concern, because the gums actually pull away from the teeth, leaving spaces between teeth and gums where bacteria can thrive. The bacteria themselves, along with the body's immune response, begin to break down the bone and connective tissue of teeth and gums.
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