Gum disease is common among adults in the UK; however, it can often go ignored for some time because the initial symptoms are not always noticeable or even painful to begin with. In the early stages, gum disease tends to flare up with painless symptoms, such as slight bleeding from around the base of the teeth after they have been brushed; the tissue does not usually become sore or inflamed, so many people overlook or ignore the problem when it first occurs. Without treatment during the early stages, the infection can become more aggressive and the stability of the teeth can be affected later on.
Even though gum disease is not a dental emergency initially, it can deteriorate to the point where immediate treatment is going to be needed; this usually means that gum boils – periodontal abscesses – have started to form around the base of the teeth, as a result of the infection. The dentist will have to lance the boils and remove the tissue to make sure that the infection does not flare up again; this should be able to stop the boils from recurring at a later date. If the infection has become much more aggressive, the dentist may recommend a course of antibiotics to get the problem under control.
If gum disease is not treated for some time, it is likely that tooth loss is going to be the result of the infection that has started to penetrate deeply into the tissue. Tooth loss occurs because the gum tissue starts to pull away from the base of the teeth as it deteriorates; this leaves the supporting structure exposed to the bacteria and this causes instability within the tooth. The affected teeth will no longer be able to hold themselves up in the socket and they will start to wobble painfully whenever pressure is put onto them to bite and chew. At some stage, the teeth will be beyond repair and the dentist will have no choice but to remove the tooth.
You should also remember that gum disease can move further into the body and the bacteria may spread into the blood stream if the condition goes untreated for some time; this can lead to blood poisoning – a problem that can be life-threatening in some circumstances. Although it is unlikely that gum disease will lead to something serious like this, you should be on the lookout for further symptoms if you have been living with long-term gum disease. Symptoms such as dizziness, fever, and nausea could indicate blood poisoning and this is not a condition that should be left ignored for some time. If you start to feel unwell generally, you should report this to a doctor urgently.