Do You Have Gingivitis? Signs You Have Gum Disease

Gingivitis is a periodontal disease that affects your gums. It's a condition that roughly half of adult Americans have. When left untreated, it can cause infection, loss of gum tissue, and dental problems.

Knowing whether you have gingivitis or not can greatly affect your oral health. If you brush regularly and floss as often as you should, you are doing your part to keep periodontal disease at bay. Here are signs you have gingivitis, and what you need to do about it so your symptoms do not return.

Changes in Your Gums

Gingivitis is caused by excess plaque on the teeth that has been left to harden. As the germ-laden plaque hardens on your teeth, it creeps into your gum line where it has a safe, hard-to-reach area to breed bacteria. Simple brushing does not make gingivitis go away once it is present, and your gums will react to the infection. Changes in your gums that can indicate periodontal disease include:
  • Swelling
  • Bleeding
  • Pain when brushing
  • Dark red, purple, or black gums
If you can gently push on your gums and cause them to bleed or they are painful to the touch, call your dentist right away for an oral exam. Gingivitis should be treated as soon as symptoms appear to reduce the amount of permanent damage the disease can have on your gums.

Changes in Your Teeth

As gingivitis progresses, it can cause changes in your teeth. Your gums react to infection by swelling and then pulling away from the infectious site, which is typically the root base of your teeth. As a result, your teeth may suddenly appear longer or with more exposed roots.

Your teeth may also start to appear discolored, being a darker hue on top and lighter at the base. This can be caused by a receding gum line just recently exposing fresh tooth enamel to the surface. Call your dentist right away if you notice your teeth becoming more prominent at the roots or if you have dental nerve pain. These are indicators that your gums and tooth base may be suffering from gingivitis or a more serious gum disease.

Changes in Your Breath

Infection that is breeding in your gums will cause your breath to become foul. You may even notice a bitter or sour taste in your mouth soon after brushing. If you find yourself self-conscious about your breath or you taste a bitter aftertaste in your mouth after eating, swallowing, or even brushing your teeth, gingivitis may be to blame.

A quick test you can do at home to test your breath is this: press a finger lightly to your gum line and pull your finger away. The pressure should release saliva from the impact that is flavorless and odorless. If you smell decay or taste foul spittle instead, then you may have gingivitis.

What You Can Do About It

The best way to prevent gingivitis is to receive regular dental care. The most important part of gum health is professional cleaning, which should be done twice a year. Floss regularly by placing a dental floss under each tooth's root base to remove plaque before it hardens.

If you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, your dentist will want to do a deep cleaning of your teeth. This often involves numbing your gums so a hygienist can use a special tool to chip out hardened plaque and remove all signs of infection safely and comfortably. The process is typically performed over multiple visits to avoid over-taxing your mouth with this intensive cleaning.

Your dentist can give you further assistance in keeping gum disease at bay. At Wasson Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, your oral health is our first priority.