Gum disease is a sneaky troublemaker that affects millions worldwide, causing significant damage if left untreated. It’s not always easy to tell if you have this condition, but catching it early is essential to prevent further oral health problems.  

Luckily, there are some tell-tale signs and symptoms to watch out for, such as bleeding, receding gums, and bad breath. Explore the signs and symptoms of gum disease in detail, know who is most at risk, and find out how a periodontist in Decatur, AL, can help you get your oral health back on track. 

patient showing his bleeding gums to his periodontist in Decatur AL

What Is Gum Disease?  

Gum disease is an inflammatory condition that affects the gums, bones, and other tissues supporting your teeth. When you don’t brush properly, binge on sugary foods, or smoke tobacco, plaque accumulates on your teeth and gums, causing bacteria to grow and leading to swelling, bleeding, and infection. 

Gingivitis and periodontitis are the two stages of gum disease. Gingivitis is a mild condition characterized by red, swollen, and tender gums that bleed easily during brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis can become periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can cause gums to recede. As a result, more sensitive oral tissue is exposed, and teeth can loosen or fall out of their sockets. 

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums 
  • Bleeding gums during brushing or flossing 
  • Persistent bad breath or taste in the mouth 
  • Receding gums or teeth that appear longer 
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting or chewing 
  • Pus between teeth and gums 
  • Loose or shifting teeth 

Who Is at Risk of Gum Disease?  

Anyone can develop gum disease, but some people may be more susceptible than others. Risk factors for gum disease include: 

  • Age: Your gums tend to recede as you age, exposing teeth roots and making them more susceptible to infection. 
  • Smoking or tobacco use: Tobacco use weakens your immune system, which makes it more difficult to fight off infections and bacteria buildups. 
  • Genetics: Some people are more predisposed to gum disease than others. If one or more family members have a history of gum disease, you may be more likely to develop it yourself. 
  • Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing or flossing twice daily and other habits can lead to plaque and bacteria buildup on your teeth and gums, increasing your risk for gum disease.  
  • Certain medications: Some medications can cause dry mouth, making it harder to wash away food remains and leading to gum disease. 
  • Health conditions: Diabetes, HIV, and cancer can weaken your immune system, making it more challenging to survive bacteria attacks. If you have a chronic health condition, you may also be more susceptible to gum disease. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Gum Disease

If you believe you have gum disease, it’s essential to see a periodontist in Decatur, AL, as soon as possible. Your periodontist will perform a comprehensive exam to check the health of your gums and teeth and determine the best course of treatment.  

Treatment for gum disease depends on the severity of the condition. Non-surgical procedures such as scaling and root planing may be effective in the early stages. If gum disease has progressed to the point where gums have receded, or teeth have loosened, surgical options like gum grafting or dental implants may be necessary. 

periodontist in Decatur AL about to check female patient's gums

Do You Need to Visit a Periodontist in Decatur, AL?

Don’t let gum disease go unnoticed. If you’re experiencing symptoms, seek help from a qualified periodontist in Decatur, AL. Book your appointment today to maintain optimal oral health.