Gum Health and Signs of Trouble

Gums Can Tell Your Health

If you experience these unhealthy signs in your gums, do not ignore them. They are red and puffy; they bleed, hurt or are tender when you brush or floss; they’re receding away from your teeth. You may have gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, but at this stage it is still a reversible situation. If it goes untreated, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. The state of your gums gives you a picture of your oral health, and your oral health can give you clues to whether something’s up with the rest of your body functions. Here’s what you need to know.

Signs and Symptoms of Unhealthy Gums

If your gums are receding, you may be stressed out or have sleep apnea. Receding gums can result from bruxism which puts a lot of pressure on your gum line, teeth, and jawbones, causing gums to pull away. It can lead to tooth sensitivity if roots are exposed. Bruxism may also be due to health issues like anxiety and stress, it’s also commonly linked with sleep apnea.

Sores on your gums could be an indication of herpes. They can cause oral outbreaks, known as cold sores. They can be painful, often popping up on the borders of the mouth, or break out inside the mouth, including on the gums. Before they show up, you’ll feel tingling, burning, or itching. An outbreak can last for days, and it can take two to four weeks for the blisters to fully heal. Get in touch with your doctor for an antiviral drug to accelerate healing.

Pale gums could be a sign of anemia. Very pale gums can be a sign of anemia, a blood disorder when your red blood cell count is low or you don’t have enough of the iron-rich protein hemoglobin, which gives blood its color. If you have pale gums and other symptoms of anemia, like fatigue and dizziness, consult your doctor – especially because pale gums may be masking signs of gum disease.

Dry gums could be a symptom of immune system issues. Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disorder affecting the mucous membranes of your eyes and mouth, that result in lowered levels of tears and saliva, leading to dry mouth, including your gums. When your gums are dry, it can contribute to or exacerbate gum disease. If dry gums bother you, bring it up with your doctor or dentist.

Gum disease and diabetes also share a link. If you have uncontrolled diabetes, this can make gum disease more severe and take longer to heal. Conversely, having a bacterial infection in your mouth can tax the body and make it harder to control diabetes. If you have these conditions, it’s important to address both with your doctors instead of just one or the other.