As a dentist I see it every day; a patient attends for the first time, complaining of a loose or wobbly tooth. Whilst this is completely normal part of development in children aged 6 to 13; when we see this in adults it points to something completely different -> Periodontal disease (also known as Perio, Periodontitis, Gum Disease or Pyorrhea)
When bacteria attaches itself to the tooth and travels toward the root of the tooth, it irritates the gums leading to swollen gums darker than the usual light pink and highly prone to bleeding. This is called gingivitis and is most noticeable as bleeding on brushing or eating hard foods. Gingivitis is reversible, as long as the tooth is cleaned well and kept clean for longer than 2 weeks, the gums will recover.
After a period of time the body amounts an immune response where your immune system attempts to destroy the bacteria in the mouth, however this is futile and the immune system just destroys the person’s own jaw bone and gums. Gradually you may see your teeth becoming longer as the root becomes more exposed and you will notice larger gaps between teeth. This is irreversible damage by your own immune system in response to the bacteria stimulus. If left untreated usually the disease process continues unchallenged leading to further bone loss and then wobbly teeth. The final stages of gum diease is loss of the affected teeth.
Gum Disease is serious because it is usually has no accompanying pain and hence many people who have the disease have no idea.
The 3 main risk factors for gum disease (Periodontal disease) is smoking, poor oral hygiene and uncontrolled diabetes. Most long term smokers will have some level of gum disease.
If you are concerned about gum disease or other oral condition, visit your dentist for a thorough check up!