Nearly half of all adults in the United States have some level of gum disease. And gum disease doesn't just affect your oral health. Gum disease, which starts out as gingivitis, and, if not treated, turns into periodontal disease, can lead to serious consequences for your overall health as well.

At Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. in Orinda, California, Dr. Ellis and her expert team treat all types of gum issues. In this blog, Dr. Ellis discusses the top signs that your gums are in trouble, so you can proactively address them before you begin to experience bigger dental problems. 

Painless signs of early gum disease

The reason some of the early signs of gum disease — called gingivitis in its early stage — can go unnoticed is that some of them can be painless, including the following: 

Bad breath

We’ve all had bad breath after eating onions or garlic. However, if you often have bad breath — also known as chronic halitosis — you may be inadvertently ignoring one of the first signs of gum disease. 

When plaque builds up along your gumline, it can cause chronic bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth. Don’t just eat mints or chew gum and hope the problem goes away. A thorough dental exam will reveal the underlying cause of a foul-smelling mouth. 

Red, puffy gums

Another painless sign that your gums are in trouble is that they’re red or puffy in appearance. They might not feel uncomfortable, but the fact that they’re swollen means there’s an underlying problem. You might see some blood in the sink when you brush your teeth or your gums might bleed a little when you floss. 

Not-so-painless signs of early gum disease

Some symptoms of gingivitis, however, can be felt in your mouth. They include the following:

  • Tender gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity

If you get treatment in the gingivitis stage, your treatment should be simpler and quicker than if you let the condition progress.

Gum disease progression

As gum disease progresses, plaque will continue to form along the gum line. If you don’t brush and floss sufficiently to get rid of the plaque, it can turn into tartar. Tartar is hardened plaque and bacteria that you can’t remove by brushing and flossing. When it gets to this point, you need professional dental treatment so gingivitis doesn’t advance to the next, more serious stage of gum disease called periodontal disease. 

With periodontal disease, space may form between your gums and teeth, it may be painful to chew, and your teeth may loosen and fall out, among other symptoms. You could also get an infection in your mouth that may enter into your bloodstream and, in extreme cases, impact your overall health.

Get treated early

Early intervention at the first signs of bad breath and puffy gums can help prevent irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. The team at Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. will clean your teeth and recommend steps you can take to ramp up your at-home dental routine. They may also recommend root planing and scaling to remove tartar and plaque from below your gumline.

If you see any potential signs for gum disease, don’t wait to come in. To see if you have gum disease and to get treatment if you do, book an appointment online or over the phone with Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. today.