Oftentimes, we associate infections with painful throbbing, swollen lymph nodes, and a fever, but for some reason, gum disease is often what we call a "silent infection" and can show up with almost no painful symptoms.
Many of our patients are curious about this unusual paradox of a potentially dangerous oral infection and why it may not hurt. What is it exactly about gum disease that makes it so hard to detect in its early stages?
Why Doesn't My Mouth Hurt When I Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, has several stages. The early stage of this disease is known as "gingivitis" but the advanced form of it is called "periodontitis".
Signs of early-stage gum disease include:
A foul taste in your mouth
Blood when you brush and floss
Slightly swollen or red gums
You'll notice, however, that "pain" is not listed as an early symptom, which is a very curious phenomenon! Do not mistake "painless" for "harmless", though. Gum disease can be quite dangerous, leading to heart attack, cancer, and even death. Then why doesn't this illness hurt?
It turns out that the bacteria, in addition to giving of toxic byproducts that can cause inflammation, also give off a mild analgesic, which means that it actually numbs your mouth to the pain a little bit at first. Think of gum disease like any other chronic illness. At first, diabetes isn't considered painful, but if left unchecked, it could be quite dangerous to you.
Gum disease, if caught early, can be cured. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, and floss every night. You also need to schedule a dental appointment every six months for a cleaning to help keep your teeth and gums healthy. If we haven't seen you in over six months, please give us a call today to schedule your next appointment and help ward off gum disease before it starts!