5 Often Overlooked Symptoms of Gingivitis

In the United States alone, approximately 50% of all adults between 45 to 64 have gum disease. Early gum disease is usually called gingivitis; advanced gum disease is known as periodontitis. Letting gum disease go untreated can cause the tissue around your teeth to break down, leading to tooth loss.

The main problem with gum disease is that many people aren't aware of the first symptoms of gingivitis. In addition, it's all too common to avoid seeing the dentist for regular checkups. If your teeth and gums haven't been feeling the best lately, it's essential to learn more about the most overlooked gingivitis symptoms.

In this guide, you'll learn about five early gingivitis symptoms and what you can do about them.

1. Bad Breath

If you have bad breath, you need to pay more attention to your gums. Many people don't realize that there is a connection between gingivitis and bad breath or halitosis. In fact, most people with bad breath will also have at least some level of gum disease.

This is because gingivitis causes inflammation of gum tissue due to plaque and bacteria buildup. The bacteria in your mouth break down specific proteins. When they do this, it releases volatile sulfur compounds or VSCs, which tend to have a foul smell. 

The reverse is also true regarding this connection. If you have halitosis, you're at greater risk for developing gum disease due to poor oral health habits. Food particles stay in your mouth when you don't floss and brush regularly. Food that collects around your gums and teeth will begin to rot, causing an unpleasant odor. 

Over time this food leads to an increase in bacteria which causes gum inflammation. So if you're experiencing bad breath, it's time to go to the dentist for an evaluation.

2. Receding Gums

Gum recession is a condition that occurs when gum tissues pull away from the teeth. Once your gums pull away enough, it can expose the roots underneath, making it easier to get cavities. 

While receding gums can occur from orthodontic treatments and brushing too aggressively, it's a common symptom of early-stage gingivitis. You can have mild, moderate, or severe gum recession, affecting only one or many teeth. 

Symptoms of gum recession include:

Leaving gum recession untreated can lead to serious health problems like bone loss and loose teeth. Be sure to see a dentist right away for an evaluation. Remember, prompt treatment of gingivitis includes a comprehensive exam and professional cleaning.

3. Red, Swollen, or Tender Gums

Healthy gums should appear pink and firm. They also shouldn't bleed with brushing or flossing. On the other hand, unhealthy gums will have redness and swelling. This swelling is due to bacteria in your mouth that cause an immune system response. 

It's essential to realize that tender gums aren't normal and are usually a sign of gingivitis. Plaque buildup around your gum line can irritate your tissue and lead to inflammation.

If you don't get gingivitis treated early on, your gums can form pockets or openings around your teeth. These pockets occur under the gums and fill with bacteria, causing infection. Eventually, this causes teeth erosion and tooth loss.

If your gums feel tender and appear red or swollen, don't assume it's something that will resolve on its own. Make an appointment to see your dentist for an evaluation and a thorough cleaning. 

4. Bleeding Gums

One of the first warning signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums. Most of the time, bleeding gums are due to plaque buildup around the gum line. If you don't get the plaque removed, it eventually hardens and becomes tartar.

This tartar will increase the bleeding around your gums, eventually leading to more advanced gum disease. 

You can experience bleeding when brushing, flossing, or eating hard or crunchy foods. The problem with bleeding gums is many people simply assume it happens because they're brushing too hard. However, it's actually a significant warning sign.

You'll need to visit your dentist to determine if your bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. Your dentist will recommend an exam and cleaning to remove the plaque around your gums. You'll also get other tips on how to treat gingivitis, like improving your dental hygiene routine and eating a healthy diet. 

5. Sensitive Teeth

Sensitive teeth are another symptom that people don't often associate with gingivitis. Sensitive teeth are often caused by gum recession because the tooth roots become more exposed. As a result, the nerve of your tooth has more direct contact with the outside environment.

In addition, since gum disease causes sore and inflamed gum tissue, your teeth can become sensitive due to the loss of supporting structures, which exposes the root surface. 

You'll find eating hot or cold foods to be very uncomfortable. Many people also get sharp shooting pains from acidic or sweet foods and drinks. It's also common to have pain when your teeth come into contact with cold air. 

While sensitive teeth can be due to other issues like cracked teeth and teeth grinding, it's still a sign your teeth and gums aren't as healthy as they should be.

If you find you have teeth sensitivity, make sure to talk to your dentist.

Identifying the Symptoms of Gingivitis

Now that you know more about the overlooked symptoms of gingivitis, you can take steps to improve your gum health.

One of the most important things you can do is find an experienced dentist you can trust. The great news is you can turn to Axiom Dentistry to check for early signs of gum disease.

We've been providing quality care to people in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area since 2001. We offer a full range of dental services, including gum disease treatment, general dentistry, preventative dentistry, and emergency dentistry. We also provide other services like veneers, teeth whitening, Invisalign, dental implants, and more.

We look forward to helping you, so make sure you contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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