Some symptoms of gum disease include:
- Gums that are susceptible to bleeding
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath (halitosis)
- A receding gum line
- Loose or shifting teeth
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. During this process, the gums begin to pull away from the tooth creating pockets where bacteria can collect and spread. Toxins produced by the bacteria, along with enzymes present in your body’s natural defense of infections, begin to eat at the bone and tissue that anchor your tooth. As the process continues, the corrosion spreads and more gum tissue and bone are damaged. When this happens, teeth are no longer anchored in place, thus resulting in permanent tooth loss.
While tartar buildup is the leading cause of gum disease, there are additional contributing factors. Some of these include: illnesses that affect the immune system (HIV, diabetes), poor lifestyle habits such as smoking or a diet high in sugar, poor oral hygiene habits or a family history of periodontal disease.
Some progression of gum disease may be present in your gums despite not having any symptoms. This is a reason why regular dental check ups are important in the prevention and treatment of gum disease. Only a dentist or periodontist will be able to recognize symptoms of gum disease.