We will all at some point in our lives go through gum disease or even have tooth decay. This is because of some residues residing in our teeth. Gum disease (known as periodontal disease) has serious consequences for our dental health. It’s a chronic condition that can proceed quickly in different people. In the worst cases, it results in teeth that are infected and loose and need to be removed.
We know that bleeding gum is closely connected to how we brush and floss. And most people don’t brush and floss enough, in short we are all guilty of this crime.
But removing plaque is one part of the story. Gum disease is a sign of many other problems throughout the body. If you are suspicious you have gum disease, then these four signs may tell you it’s time to see the dentist.
1) Bleeding Gums
Gums should not bleed when you brush and floss. As a general rule, if you aren’t a routine flossier, bacteria build-up below the gums may cause your gums to bleed each time you brush. This can also spread and cause bleeding when you brush your gums. If the problem persists, the bleeding usually worsens.
Gum swelling, red gums, or sore gums may also accompany bleeding. Tooth sensitivity may occur as well, and may be due to gum recession from the infected, bleeding gums. It’s common to ask if you should stop flossing when your gums are bleeding. The problem is that if you don’t floss, the plaque that causes gingivitis will destroy the fibers that attach your gum tissue to your teeth. This plaque has bacteria that cause the inflammation in your gums.
With gums that bleed, there is much more to consider than just the pain or discomfort associated with the bleeding itself. Even though that is enough for most people to be concerned, there are more problems that can take place after bleeding has begun, if it is related to gum disease.
Gum disease has some serious conditions associated with it. There are strong links with heart attack and stroke. When you see bleeding gums it’s time to get your dental check-up.
Your dentist will perform an exam that is designed to measure the severity of your bleeding gums. There are some general stages of bleeding gums that you can be aware of:
- Bleeding after or during brushing: This is when you will spot red or dark spots on brush or floss. Your goal here is to disturb plaque, so it shows you are doing the right thing.
- Gums begin to bleed more frequently: Instead of bleeding just on brushing, you are now finding blood when you eat or without any stimulation at all.
- Bleeding happens on its own, not just when brushing: Sometimes, gums will bleed with no stimulus at all. This is a sign that inflammation is progressing to more serious stages. You don’t have to be told to go and see a dentist.
- Gums begin to darken from light pink to a deeper red: This shows that more immune-regulated cells are located in the vessels. Gingivitis progresses as the immune response worsens. It signals processes that eat away at the gum tissue. Light, red blood is a sign there is oxygen present. Darker gums show lack of oxygen which is related to types of bacteria that thrive in an oxygen free environment.
2) Gum Recession or Gum ‘Pocketing’
Do your teeth look like they are getting longer? Teeth that appear ‘long’ may be due to fact that the gums that surround them are receding away. Gum recession is a sign that gum disease is progressing.
When this happens, the depth of the collar of gum tissue around your teeth increases. In later stage of gum disease these pockets become too deep. The problem is that it then becomes difficult to remove the food and debris by brushing and flossing.
Unfortunately, to most, gum recession is considered to be a normal part of aging. You may have heard the expression “long in the tooth” to describe getting older. This refers to how the gum line tends to recede and expose more of the surface of our teeth. But there really is nothing “normal” about gum recession, and for most of us, it can actually be prevented.
3) Tooth sensitivity
Gum recession or pocketing can lead to tooth sensitivity. In these cases, sensitivity can be a sign of gum disease. It can get so bad that even when you drink water you will feel some pain.
Chronically inflamed gum tissue is exposing the root surface of the tooth. This exposed root makes the tooth more susceptible to decay, tooth sensitivity and potential tooth loss. Tooth sensitivity occurs when consuming things like cold or hot beverages. If your symptoms are worsening, it’s time to see your dentist to see if they may be related to gum disease.
4) High Blood Sugar
If your blood sugar is high, you may have or be at risk of type-II diabetes. The link between gum disease and type-II diabetes is two directional. Type-II diabetics have a higher risk of gum disease that progresses faster. That’s why it’s important for your dentist to know whether you have type-II diabetes or not.
Signs of high blood sugar include:
- Increased thirst
- Mind fog or trouble concentrating
- Blurred or impaired vision
- Frequent urination
- Fatigue or loss of energy (weak, tired feeling)
- Unexplained weight loss
If you experience any of these conditions, you should see your general practitioner to test your blood sugar.
However, if you see your dentist and have been diagnosed with gum disease, you should also test your blood sugar. The conditions are closely connected to general inflammation in the body.
By: Pupwaya Timothy Dibal