Symptoms of a gum infection
An infection occurs when germs enter the body, multiply, and cause a reaction of the body. Infections can occur just about anywhere in the body, and your mouth is no exception. Infected gums can not only be painful, but they can also be a sign of a more serious condition such as periodontal disease. With any infection, it is important to act quickly, but what exactly are the symptoms of a gum infection? Let’s take a look…
What is a gum infection?
A gum infection, otherwise known as gum disease, is instigated by a build-up of dental plaque bacteria. Plaque itself is a sticky film made up of debris/bacteria which has accumulated on teeth, usually collecting in hard to clean areas. This bacterium then produces toxins and other harmful substances which can instigate the infection and inflammation of gums. If it is not removed regularly then it can form calculus/tartar, which will harden on teeth and attract further plaque in the long run.
The first stage of the disease is known as gingivitis, and this is a reversible inflammation of the gum around the teeth. You will be able to tell if you have gingivitis as your gums will no longer be the normal pale pink colour, but instead they will be red and inflamed. Additionally, they may bleed and be irritated when you interact with them. If you are worried about this and want to confirm then simply brush the gum tip and check whether it bleeds.
However, in some situations gingivitis is completely painless and you may note even be sure if you have it. This is perhaps the most dangerous type of gingivitis as it can mean you are unaware you require treatment, and thus the disease can become severe if left for extended periods. In this scenario you may develop periodontitis and your supporting bone/gum fibres will become seriously damaged, in turn this can lead to tooth loss.
Symptoms of gum infection
As the disease may begin as a silent condition in which you are largely unaware you even have it, looking out for symptoms is essential. If you notice any, then a swift dental visit is essential – in the early stages it can be reversed, whereas in its late stages it can only be managed. Some of the early and late symptoms of the disease have been detailed below:
Early symptoms of gum infection
- A redness or potentially a deep purple colour around the gum margin.
- Gums are extremely sore or irritated when touched.
- Noticeable bleeding either when brushing teeth or rinsing your mouth.
- Gums appear inflamed, and puffy.
Late symptoms of gum infection
- You notice a bad taste within your mouth or poor breath.
- Gums are starting to recede, and your teeth appear longer than before.
- A noticeable oozing pus from gums.
- Teeth begin to drift apart and move freely.
- Teeth alignment changes and bite is thus altered.
- Gum pockets have been formed due to gums pulling away from the teeth.
Who is at risk of gum infection?
The disease is very common, with around 90% suffering from gingivitis at one point in their lives, while over 50% will develop periodontitis during their lives. That being said, there are certain groups of individuals who will be more at risk of the disease, and they should try managing the disease as early as possible. These risk factors have been outlined below.
- Taking certain medications: There are certain medications which can lead to gum overgrowth, and thus increase your chances of gum infection. This includes anti-epilepsy drugs.
- Pregnancy or birth control use: If you are pregnant or taking certain birth control pills then your gums may be modified due to hormones, increasing your risk of gum infection.
- Diabetes sufferers: If you are not controlling your diabetes then you are at higher risk of gum infection.
- Smokers: This is perhaps the biggest cause of gum infection, and as nicotine stops bleeding it may also be masking your potential bleeding gum
- Those with a genetic predisposition.