Gingivitis Symptoms – The Early Warning Signals that Gum Disease Is Morphing into Systemic Disease

Almost everyone suffers a mild to moderate case of gingivitis sooner or later. Most often occurring when we miss too many dental cleaning appointments, this common condition of gum inflammation usually causes nothing worse than some tenderness, some swelling, a little blood on the toothbrush or in the mouth rinse water-because most of us take care of it. But there are five symptoms that gum infections are progressing into something far more serious that everyone should know.

  1. Bad breath that can’t be masked with mouth wash.

    If you have morning breath last follows you through noon and night no matter what you do, take a careful look at your gums. Really fierce halitosis can be caused by a condition called trench mouth. Also known as Vincent’s angina and acute necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis, trench mouth can quickly spread through the gums to the jawbone and beyond. A lump in the jaw to the side of the mouth is a signal you need emergency dental care-but the very first sign may be fearsomely bad breath.

  2. Bruising not accompanied by pain or swelling.

    Sometimes blood on your toothbrush is not caused by gingivitis at all. If you have recently started a blood thinning medication, or if you are being treated for asthma or arthritis or if you are a woman on the Pill, then the bleeding in your gums may be due to changes in blood clotting factors induced by medication. Liver disease can also cause this symptom.

    It’s unusual for the gums to be the only location of bruising and bleeding caused by deficiencies in clotting factors. And it’s normal for the problem to go away once the medication is adjusted.

  3. Bleeding in the gums after you have had a flu shot or after you have had flu.

    shot-for-fluA condition called idiopathic cytopenic purpura is a change in the immune system induced by exposure to live or dead (vaccine) viruses that cause it to destroy blood platelets. The platelets produce the collagen net that “catches” proteins to make a plot. The first time you have this condition and you brush too vigorously, your gums may bleed. This condition comes on quickly in children and slowly in adults, and lead to bleeding in the brain. See your doctor (not your dentist) if you have bleeding gums develop after the flu.

  4. Bleeding in the gums with hard-to-control blood sugars.

    The germs that cause gum infections feed on sugar, and diabetics are “sweet.” The infection feeds on sugar. Then the immune system attempts to remove the infection by inflaming the gums, but the inflammatory hormones raise blood sugars, which feed the infection. It’s always best for diabetics to get gum infections treated as quickly as possible, but it can take months to get both gum infections and diabetes back under control.

  5. Rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and chest pain.

    The inflammation the immune system releases in the gum can travel to the heart. Elevated levels of C-reactive protein can damage the heart and increase the risk of blood clots in the brain, as well as accelerate Alzheimer’s. Taking care of your gums also helps take care of your heart.