Main Symptoms of Periodontal Gum Disease
Periodontal disease can cause different symptoms as the disease progresses. One of the main problems with periodontal or gum disease may be the lack of any apparent symptoms in some people. For example, one common sign of gum infection is bleeding gums, but this may not happen in smokers due to the way nicotine affects the blood vessels. Consequently the disease can be easy to ignore, often until it has progressed significantly and is causing more unpleasant and difficult to treat problems such as tooth or jaw pain, bite problems or a periodontal abscess.
If you attend regular checkups then the very earliest signs can easily be detected, at a stage when treatment is often straightforward and quick.
Gum disease often develops in areas of your mouth that you are failing to brush or floss thoroughly. As a result, bacteria quickly build up, causing infection. Your body’s reaction is to try to fight the infection, which results in the gums becoming inflamed. Inflammation or swollen or red gums is one of the first signs of gingivitis, or early gum disease. Other symptoms can include:
- Bleeding gums whenever you brush or floss
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth
- Persistent bad breath
- Sore gums
Pain isn’t on this list, for the simple reason that early gum disease is generally not painful, and in fact it might not cause much discomfort at all. In spite of the lack of pain, the infection will be causing significant destruction behind the scenes, so it is important to pay attention to these early symptoms that something is wrong.
If you don’t manage to visit a dentist for diagnosis and treatment, gingivitis will get worse. Longer appearing teeth can result from gum recession, as your gums begin to lose the fight against the bacteria. By this stage they will probably be bleeding more frequently, and will look swollen. Your bad breath may become more noticeable, and you could find you have a persistently bad taste in your mouth. By now your symptoms could include:
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Tooth pain
- Gum pain
- Tooth sensitivity
- TMJ symptoms
- Changes to your bite
The infection and inflammation will gradually spread deeper into your gums, eventually affecting the other structures supporting your teeth. These structures include the ligaments that are attached to your tooth roots and to the tooth socket. The ligaments help hold your teeth firmly in position, and when they are destroyed your teeth are more likely to feel loose. Periodontal disease can also affect the bone surrounding your teeth, literally eating away at the sockets. When this happens then you may lose these teeth as they will have very little support to keep them in place.
Painful Chewing or Loose Teeth
At this point you might notice you have loose teeth. Biting down on foods can result in painful chewing, and you could notice your teeth don’t meet together in quite the same way they used to. As teeth become loose they will begin to shift out of position, and this problem can be made worse if you have already lost some teeth but haven’t yet replaced them.
Changes to your bite can also affect your jaw joints or temporomandibular joints. This can cause symptoms of TMJ disorder (TMD), a condition that can lead to jaw pain which can radiate out to create painful and persistent headaches or even neck and shoulder pain.
A tooth abscess, or periodontal abscess can be caused by gum disease bacteria in the periodontal, or gum pockets around your teeth. This causes the gum to swell around the affected tooth, and it is likely to be painful. A periodontal abscess is very destructive, eating away at the ligaments and bone surrounding the tooth, ultimately resulting in the loss of the tooth.
Wisdom Tooth Infections
Gum disease symptoms can also develop around partially erupted wisdom teeth, where there is insufficient room for the tooth to fully erupt in the mouth. Partially erupted wisdom teeth can often have a flap of gum tissue that is still over part of the tooth, and which is very difficult to keep clean and free from food particles and bacteria. It is often quite difficult to keep wisdom teeth thoroughly clean as they are situated so far back in the mouth. As a result, the gum tissue around the tooth can become infected. While it is sometimes possible to treat the infection, it can reoccur, and ultimately wisdom tooth extraction might be the best way to permanently clear up the gum infection.