Leading gum specialist reveals the oral health red flags patients should never ignore

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A leading gum specialist has revealed a number of red flag symptoms dental patients should never ignore.

Dr Reena Wadia, founder of RW Perio in London, urged people to keep up to date with regular check-ups to reduce the risk of oral health issues and keep the teeth and gums in good condition. Checks should be organised every 6-24 months, but Dr Wadia stressed that patients should contact their dentist if they have any concerns or they notice symptoms between scheduled appointments.

One of the most common signs people ignore is bleeding when they brush their teeth. Bleeding gums is a symptom of gum disease and it can be indicative of advanced gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Gingivitis, a mild form of gum disease, can be treated and managed relatively easily, but periodontal disease causes irreversible damage to the gums. It is essential for patients to contact their dentist if they spot blood when they brush their teeth or they have symptoms such as swollen, sore and red gums.

Another symptom to look out for is mouth ulcers, particularly those that take a long time to heal. Mouth ulcers are common and they usually go after 7-10 days without the need for treatment. In some cases, recurrent ulcers are linked to dietary deficiencies or underlying health conditions, for example, Crohn’s disease. Slow-healing ulcers can be a sign of oral cancer and it’s best to make an appointment with a dentist or GP to get the ulcers checked out.

Dr Wadia also encouraged patients who have persistent bad breath, dry mouth and worn teeth to consult their dentist. Bad breath is most commonly linked to poor oral hygiene, but it can be symptomatic of other health conditions. Dry mouth is a common effect of dehydration, but it can also be caused by taking some types of medication. Worn teeth may be a sign of tooth grinding, also known as bruxism.

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