When you attend your regular dental checkup, your dental hygienist and dentist won't strictly be checking the condition of your teeth. They'll also be paying close attention to your gums and, in particular, noticing if there are any signs of gum disease. While a dental professional will be able to assess whether you're contending with this issue, there are a handful of signs that you may notice that suggest you could be in the early stages of gum disease. If you encounter such issues, it's a good idea to visit your dentist as soon as possible, rather than wait for your next scheduled cleaning. Here are some early warning signs.

Bleeding Gums After Brushing

When you brush your teeth and spit into the sink, pay special attention to that color of the saliva and toothpaste residue. You're looking for it to be white (or perhaps slightly blue, based on the color of your toothpaste). If you notice a pinkish hue or can visibly see strains of blood in the spit, this could be a sign that you're in the early stages of gum disease. When you have gum disease, your gums will commonly bleed during brushing, even if you brush lightly or use a soft-bristled brush.

Bad Breath

Although bad breath can occur for a wide range of reasons, including dehydration and based on what you've eaten, a change in your breath for the worse may indicate that you're in the early stages of gum disease. It may be difficult for you to assess the smell of your own breath, so notice whether loved ones have told you that your breath smells a little off or if people you've conversing with are taking a step back from you. Sometimes, you may also be able to taste an unpleasant odor in your mouth.

Visible Gum Changes

If you stand in front of the bathroom mirror and smile widely, you should be able to see your gums. Sometimes, you'll be able to catch an early warning sign of gum disease. For example, the gums may appear redder than usual, which is a sign of inflammation. This is often the case if you've noticed blood after brushing your teeth. In many cases, the inflammation will be more apparent on the part of your gums that is in direct contact with your teeth. If you notice any of these symptoms, be sure to schedule a dental checkup right away.