Unhealthy gums can lead to a cascade of dental disasters. For example, gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. Untreated, it can evolve into periodontitis, or periodontal disease. This advanced stage of gum disease can have devastating health effects, including bone loss, receding gums, and loose teeth that fall out or are extracted. However, knowing the signs of unhealthy gums can help patients know when to contact See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, CA! We believe that patient education is key to preventing oral health problems.
There are multiple signs that a patient’s gum health is at risk and that it is time to make a dental appointment. Below, See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics will cover some of the most common signs of unhealthy gums in detail to help our patients preserve their oral health:
Unhealthy gums are often inflamed and red in color. However, gingivitis can also cause whitish gums, as can other underlying health conditions. Underlying conditions include anemia, oral candidiasis, oral cancer, leukoplakia, recent teeth whitening, or tooth extraction. Canker sores on the bottom of the gums may also turn them white (though patients can eliminate canker sores as the source of their white gums if the discoloration persists along the gumline). Thus, experiencing red or whitish gums warns of an underlying issue. Normal and healthy gums should always be pink.
Soft gums are another sign that a patient should contact See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics. In addition to being a healthy pink, gums should be firm. Due to an inflammatory response, gum tissue and bone can break down, leaving the gums soft or squishy. Soft gums are a sign of deterioration, and gingivitis and periodontitis are often the cause. Ignoring this warning sign can result in loose teeth that either fall out on their own or need to be extracted.
Unhealthy gums are quick to become inflamed and tender. It is not uncommon for eating, brushing, or flossing to cause compromised gums to bleed. Bleeding gums are not normal, and this is one of the most common signs to watch for. Though gums may bleed slightly if a patient begins a new flossing routine, it should be minimal and quickly disappear. Gums that bleed on an ongoing basis are not a normal occurrence.
Tooth sensitivity is often a sign of gingivitis. For example, a patient’s teeth may react to different temperatures when eating and drinking. Although it can be tempting to dismiss this fact, gingivitis develops into periodontitis and can cause greater sensitivity and tooth pain. The receding gumline exposes the tooth’s roots, making them more vulnerable to infection. Pockets of pus between the teeth and gums may turn into painful abscesses.
Halitosis is a dental term that refers to bad breath. Though everyone has bad breath occasionally, persistent, or chronic bad breath is a sign that something is wrong. In this case, even the most diligent brushing and flossing routines cannot rid the patient of their bad breath. The accumulation of oral bacteria in the gum tissue can cause halitosis. Gum disease can also cause an odd taste in the mouth that is difficult to relieve.
One key sign that something is seriously wrong is when teeth start appearing longer. This is due to a receding gumline that exposes more of the patient’s teeth. In addition, deeper pockets begin appearing between the teeth. These pockets are prone to food particles and bacteria that can cause an infection.
As bone and tissue deteriorate and the gumline recedes, the teeth’s support system is stripped away. Without bone and tissue to hold them in place, teeth become loose. They may fall out on their own or become so loose that a tooth extraction becomes necessary. The presence of loose teeth or gaps where teeth once were can cause nearby ones to shift. Thus, a patient may notice a change in their bite and ability to consume food easily.
The aforementioned signs are some of the warnings that it is time to make an appointment at See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics. At your appointment, we will work to treat unhealthy gums and get your oral health back on track.
See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics works to prevent unhealthy gums through patient education and regular dental cleanings. If caught early, gingivitis can sometimes be reversed with a professional dental cleaning and renewed oral hygiene regimen. However, if it has developed into periodontitis, a deep teeth cleaning may be needed, as well as more frequent visits to our dental office in Santa Barbara, CA. The best preventative practices are to brush twice a day, floss at least once, and schedule regular dental cleanings and exams. These simple measures can help preserve gum health and spare patients from painful procedures later, such as tooth extractions.
Gum health is easy to determine because it is highly visible. Healthy gums are pink, firm, and do not bleed when eating, brushing, or flossing. There are multiple signs of unhealthy gums, including red or whitish gums, soft gums, bleeding gums, tooth sensitivity or pain, halitosis, an odd taste in the mouth, a receding gumline, a change in the appearance of the teeth, and loose teeth or teeth that fall out. However, a diligent oral hygiene regimen and regular dental cleanings and exams at See Me Smile Dental and Orthodontics can help keep gums healthy. Being aware of what unhealthy gums look and feel like can help our valued patients know when to give our dental office in Santa Barbara, CA a call.
Warning signs of unhealthy gums should never be ignored. If you are experiencing one or more symptoms of unhealthy gums, contact us at (805) 284-0826.