• 16 October 2023
  • Professor Alessandro Quaranta

Last updated on October 17, 2023

Our teeth and gums play a vital role in our overall health and well-being. Just as the soil and roots support the healthy growth of a tree, our gums provide the essential support and protection our teeth need to remain strong and healthy.

This is why knowing the signs of gum disease is so important. If we are aware of common gum problems and how they present, we can address them early and prevent more serious complications.

Our friendly experts at Smile Specialist Suite guide you through healthy and unhealthy gums, plus the signs and symptoms of gum disease so you can maintain your beautiful smile.

Healthy gums vs. unhealthy gums

Healthy gums are a pink colour, firm to the touch and fit snugly around each tooth.

In contrast, unhealthy gums can be red, swollen and painful. The gum line may be pulling back from your teeth, or what is known as gum recession and your teeth can become loose.

Healthy gums vs. unhealthy gums

Knowing the warning signs of gum disease is the best way to treat gum disease early before it progresses and treatment is more involved and invasive.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. It is caused by poor oral health and bacteria and plaque buildup.

What are the signs of gum disease?

The earlier you can identify the signs of gum disease, the sooner you can start treatment. This can prevent gum disease from causing loose teeth or damage to the soft tissues and bones.

Redness and Swelling

Healthy gums have a coral-pink colour. However, with periodontal disease, your gums will become red and swollen due to inflammation or infection. This is usually the first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis.

Bleeding Gums

Another sign of unhealthy gums is bleeding when you brush or floss. This is the number one sign of periodontal disease and should not be ignored. The soft tissue of your mouth has become inflamed and irritated by bacteria, leading to increased bleeding.

Gum Recession

This occurs when the gum tissue pulls away,  exposing more of your tooth or the tooth’s root. While it can be a result of aggressive brushing, more often, it’s a symptom of progressing gum disease. This creates deep pockets around your tooth and allows more bacteria to travel underneath your gums, exacerbating already swollen or bleeding gums.

Bad Breath

Occasional bad breath after a garlicky meal is one thing, but persistent bad breath (halitosis) or a bad taste in your mouth can be a sign of periodontal disease and gum infection. This occurs due to the bacteria present on your teeth and beneath the gum line.

Loose or Shifting Teeth

As gum disease advances, it can lead to bone loss. This weakens the supportive structures around your teeth, potentially causing them to loosen or shift. If you notice any movement in your teeth or a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite, it’s crucial to see a dentist.

When should you see a dentist or periodontist

One of the first signs of gum disease is bleeding when brushing. Other signs include inflammation, smelly breath, loose teeth and a receding gum line.

When should you see a dentist or periodontist?

Gum and oral health aren’t something to take lightly. If you notice any of the above symptoms, or it’s been a while since your last dental exam it’s time to schedule an appointment and have your gum disease treated. Early intervention is key to treating gum disease effectively and preventing the progression of periodontal diseases.

How to prevent gum problems

Gum diseases are preventable with good oral hygiene and by minimising your risk factors:

  • brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • floss once per day
  • see your dentist regularly for checkups and deep cleaning to remove dental plaque and bacteria
  • quit smoking
  • avoid sugary, carbonated drinks
  • eat a healthy, nutritious diet
  • drink plenty of water

Learning to recognise the signs of gum disease for optimal oral health

By understanding and recognising the early signs of gum disease, we arm ourselves with the knowledge to prevent it. As with many health conditions, early detection is vital. So, the next time you brush, take a moment to check in with your teeth and gums. They do a lot for you; return the favour by keeping them healthy and embracing dental care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

The warning signs of periodontal disease include red, swollen gums, sensitive teeth and gums, bleeding when brushing or flossing, smelly breath and loose or wobbly teeth. You may also notice pain and changes in the way your teeth line up when biting.

What’s the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Gingivitis is the early stage and periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease. Gingivitis usually presents as gum inflammation and if treated early can be resolved relatively easily. Periodontitis is what happens if gingivitis is left untreated and can result in tooth loss, tooth decay, and damage to the bone supporting your teeth.

How can gum disease be prevented?

Gum disease can be prevented by embracing good dental health, regular flossing and brushing with toothpaste containing fluoride, regular checkups and appointments with a dental hygienist to remove plaque. You should also minimise risk factors such as smoking, chewing tobacco and poor nutrition.

Professor Alessandro Quaranta

About The Author

Professor Alessandro Quaranta

Professor Alessandro Quaranta (Prof Q) has been in specialist practice for 15 years since completing his specialist training from the “University of Rome,” La Sapienza”, the top university in Italy* and the largest University in Europe.

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