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Signs of Early Gum Disease

Did you know gum disease is the top cause of adult tooth loss in the United States? The good news is that treating gum disease in its early stages can help you avoid tooth loss and maintain a beautiful smile for years to come. 

The key is to learn to recognize the early symptoms of gum disease — symptoms that can sometimes be easy to miss.

We can help with twice-yearly dental checkups at Dr. Taylor’s Family Dental Center. As a top-rated dentist in Waterford, Michigan, Marvin Taylor, DDS and his group of Dentists, are skilled in identifying gum disease and treating it before it causes major problems.

Gum disease in a nutshell

Your mouth is full of bacteria — some good and some not so good. The not-so-good bacteria tend to stick to your tooth surfaces, hidden in sticky plaque film or protected by hard deposits of tartar. 

They also release substances that irritate your gums. Your gums react by pulling away from the tooth surface, creating tiny pockets that let bacteria invade the lower parts of the gum tissue.

Over time, the cycle continues: Bacteria release toxins, the irritated gums pull away, and more of the tooth is exposed. Unless they’re stopped, those bacteria will keep on going all the way to the tooth root. Root infections weaken your tooth, ultimately leading to permanent tooth loss.

Early signs of gum disease

Gum disease occurs in stages. The earliest stage is gingivitis and the latter stage is periodontitis. Ideally, you want to catch gum disease when it’s in that early stage because that’s when it’s easiest to treat. However, identifying symptoms of gingivitis can be a little tricky.


Gum disease is an inflammatory disease, so it’s no surprise that it causes swelling. Sometimes the swelling is mild, and it might only be in one or two areas of your mouth (like near your back molars where it’s hard to see). 

Still, if any part of your gums looks puffy, it’s a sign you might have gingivitis or even more advanced gum disease.


Redness is another sign of inflammation. While pink is the color of healthy gums, red gums indicate an area of inflammation that might be associated with gum disease. As with swelling, you’ll most likely notice redness near the base of your teeth where the teeth meet your gums.


Gingivitis makes your gums tender, and that means they’re more likely to bleed when you brush or floss your teeth. Most of us associate bleeding with pain, but bleeding from gum disease typically doesn’t cause any pain.


While gingivitis might cause some discomfort in your gums, in the very early stages there’s almost never any pain. If your gums are already sore, you might have more advanced gum disease or you could have another problem like an abscess.

Diagnosing early gum disease

The early signs of gum disease can be very subtle, and since there’s rarely any discomfort they can be really easy to miss. To schedule your dental checkup and catch gum disease early, give us a call or use our online tool to book an appointment today.

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