When it comes to dental health, most people focus primarily on their teeth. While this is certainly an important element of oral health, it's also crucial to pay attention to the state of your gums. Researchers at Harvard Medical School have found that gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, leaving the body susceptible to severe infection and possibly additional degenerative diseases.
There are obvious signs of gum disease, like visible pus, but as Dr. Scott Terry, your North Vernon, IN, dentist, knows all too well, other signs often go unnoticed. To make sure your gums stay healthy, continuously look for the following red flags.
Like every other part of your body, the coloring of your gums is not going to be entirely consistent. Different parts of the gums will have different shades. Healthy gums, however, boast shades of pink. If your gums are much darker shades of pink or red, you might be suffering from gum disease, and should seek medical attention to determine the proper course of action.
There's a caveat to this warning, though. If you're a smoker, odds are your gums will be pink even if you are suffering from gum disease. This is because the chemicals in cigarettes deprive the soft tissue in your mouth of oxygen, which can mask the visible signs of gum disease -- yet another reason to quit the unhealthy habit.
Swollen, Bleeding Gums
If you've ever had a cut or scrape get infected, you know that the area often becomes red and inflamed. The same thing happens when periodontal disease infects your gums. The tissue becomes swollen and often tender, causing discomfort in the mouth. Never is this so obvious as when you're brushing your teeth.
People often mistake bleeding gums as a side effect of brushing their teeth "too hard." In truth, gum disease is often the culprit for blood in your brushing routine. The tissue is more fragile when infected, which can cause tiny tears as you go about your oral hygiene routine. This will go away with the proper interventions when you meet your North Vernon dentist.
Receding Gums and Loose Teeth
As we age, our gums often begin to recede. It's a function of the tissue in our body breaking down. If you're living with gum disease, though, you'll find your gums receding much more quickly than they should, revealing more of your teeth.
Not only is this recession unsightly and likely to leave you more vulnerable to infection, but it can put you at risk of losing your teeth. Your gums are what keep your teeth secure in your mouth, and the less of your gums are there, the less there is holding them in place. It is much less expensive to treat gum disease than replace a lost adult tooth.
If you're concerned you might have gum disease, call Dr. Terry, your North Vernon, IN, dentist, today.