What you need to know about gum disease
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is one of the most common oral issues and can often go undetected. A finding from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) showed that nearly half of Americans age 30 or above actually have periodontitis, a more advanced form of gum disease. That makes over 64 million Americans dealing with gum disease.
What exactly is gum disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums, which are the soft tissue that hold your teeth in place. It is caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque–a sticky, colorless or pale yellow film–to build up and harden on your teeth. In its early stage, it is known as gingivitis. With gingivitis, your gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is your body’s natural response to the unwanted bacteria in your mouth. When gum disease advances, it develops into periodontitis. With periodontitis, the gums start to pull away from the teeth and supporting gum tissue is destroyed. The result is bone loss and loose teeth which could eventually fall out.
Common Gum Disease Causes
- Plaque buildup on teeth
- Smoking cigarettes and using chewing tobacco
- Hormonal shifts for women (pregnancy/menstrual cycles)
- Some types of prescription medicines that can dry up saliva production
- Lack of nutrition (Vitamin C and water)
- Crooked teeth and resulting bacteria buildup
- Family history and hereditary factors
It is important for you to regularly monitor your teeth and gums to make sure you aren’t experiencing signs of gum disease. Being knowledgeable about the symptoms will help you decide whether it’s time to make an appointment to go see your dentist as well.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Pain when chewing
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Very sensitive teeth
- Red or swollen gums
- Receding gums
- Loose teeth or tooth loss
Facts About Gum Disease
- Chronic periodontitis is the most advanced form of gum disease. It consists of chronic inflammation of the periodontal tissues. Periodontitis is caused by large amounts of plaque that accumulates over time. This disease progresses relatively slowly in most people and can be seen more when you become an adult.
- There are 4 stages of gum disease:
- Stage 1 – Gingivitis: this stage is still reversible and symptoms include bloody or swollen gums.
- Stage 2 – Slight Periodontal: this stage is what happens if gingivitis is left untreated. The infection has reached the bone and is now deteriorating. By this stage, it is irreversible but there are treatments to help slow the progress.
- Stage 3 – Moderate Periodontal: at this stage, the infection has now reached your bloodstream and immune system.
- Stage 4 – Advanced Periodontal: at the final stage of the disease, you will see rapid bone loss and loss of teeth.
- Gum disease is linked to other health issues, such as diabetes, strokes, cancer, and heart disease. It can also be traced back to some pregnancy issues and problems with dementia.
- Gum disease has been known to spread from person to person through the bacteria in the mouth. Saliva can carry this bacteria, so make sure you are aware of your partner or friends oral health if you are: sharing a toothbrush, kissing, drinking from the same glass, or eating with the same utensils. Doing so can put you at risk of getting the bacteria yourself if you don’t have it.
- Unfortunately, brushing by itself isn’t enough to stop gum disease. Regular flossing and mouthwash that helps prevent gingivitis are necessary for your daily oral routine. Also don’t forget your 6 month cleaning at the dentist will help to get any plaque or issues taken care as well.
How to avoid gingivitis and periodontal disease:
- Brush twice a day
- Floss daily
- Use electric toothbrush
- Make sure your toothbrush has soft bristles
- Use mouthwash specific for gingivitis
- Replace your toothbrush every three months
- Visit your dentist every 6 months if you have underlying issues or once a year for a check up
Gum disease can easily hide itself from you until it’s too late to reverse, so make sure you are taking steps to curb gingivitis where it starts! Take care of your teeth and gums with regular brushing and flossing, use an oral rinse daily, and make sure to stick to your dental appointments.
Want to improve your smile?
Carrie Muzny DDS and Associates offer the highest-quality dental services for our patients in The Woodlands and surrounding areas. Our highly acclaimed dentists are not only exceptionally trained in modern preventative techniques, but also have attained academic honors and continue to refine their craft year after year in preventative dentistry, restorative dentistry, surgical procedures, and cosmetic dentistry.
With our state-of-the-art technology and vast range of smile-perfecting procedures, we stay atop the field and deliver smiles as sunny as the state of Texas!