Though gum disease is actually quite prevalent, few patients know about the risks and impact of this harmful illness. However, by being knowledgeable about this disease, you can take the necessary steps to prevent it! To make sure you remain in good oral health, check out these five facts every patient should know about gum disease.
1. Gum disease is more common than you think.
You may be thinking, “There’s no way I could have gum disease. My mouth feels fine.” But gum disease often shows no obvious symptoms and doesn’t cause pain – so many people have it and don’t know it.
According to the Center for Disease Control, around 47 percent of adults aged 30 or older have some form of gum disease. By the age of 65, a little over 70 percent of adults have the disease. This is also more common in men than in women, as just over 56 percent of men have periodontal disease. Because of the prevalence of this oral health issue, it is important to educate yourself on the symptoms, effects, and prevention of this disease.
2. Gum disease can impact your overall health.
While gum disease can certainly affect your oral health, it also has widespread effects on systems throughout the body. In fact, gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, respiratory illness, diabetes, and complications during pregnancy. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, this may be a result of inflammation that is linked to this disease.
3. There are a number of warning signs of gum disease that you can look out for
While gum disease can often go unnoticed, there are a few signs and symptoms that you can be on the lookout for.
Early stage gum disease, known as gingivitis, ‘Plaque Attack’ may cause subtle symptoms such as mild bleeding or red or swollen areas on your gums. If your gums bleed when you floss them, this is not normal. See your dentist for a proper cleaning, and be diligent about daily brushing and flossing thereafter.
If gingivitis isn’t treated, it leads to more severe gum disease known as periodontitis, ‘Bone Burrowing’ . This occurs when plaque moves below the gum line and causes inflammation and irritation. If it continues to progress, it leads to infections, pockets or holes in the tissues, and tooth loss.
Seriously – the stakes are that high. Failing to spot this condition early on can have serious consequences, since it’s one of the leading causes of tooth loss for adults
Fortunately, if you play detective, you can keep a sharp eye out for signs of this nefarious intruder:
- Bleeding gums
- Receding gum line
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Tooth sensitivity
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Changes in your bite alignment
- Changes in the fit of dentures or other restorations
4. There are certain factors that may put you at greater risk.
In order to best prevent periodontitis, it is important to know your risk level for the illness. If you meet any of the following criteria, be sure to be extra mindful of your gum health:
- You’re over the age of 65
- You smoke or use tobacco products
- Your family has a history of gum disease
- crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
- You suffer from chronic stress
- You take certain medications that impact your oral health (certain oral contraceptives, heart medication, anti-depressants, etc.)
- You suffer from bruxism (teeth grinding)
- You suffer from chronic illnesses such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or cardiovascular disease
- You eat a low-nutrient diet
While these factors may increase your risk, this does not mean you will definitely get periodontitis. Luckily, this disease is easily preventable if you take certain precautions.
5. Gum disease easily preventable and treatable
Periodontitis may be common, but the good news is that the disease is preventable! Maintaining a solid oral healthcare routine is the first step you can take to prevent this illness. This means brushing your teeth regularly (at least twice per day), flossing daily, and visiting your dentist every six months for a routine check-up. Quitting smoking has also been proven to significantly reduce your chances of getting this disease.
If your dentist diagnoses you with gingivitis, the treatment options are often minimally invasive. With a professional dental cleaning, followed up by a regular regimen of brushing and flossing, gingivitis can usually be reversed.
Periodontitis is the more advanced form of gum disease. Your dental professional may have to use more invasive techniques, like scaling and deep cleaning of the surfaces of your roots. periodontitis doesn’t just affect your gums. It can also cause tissue and bone loss throughout the mouth. If this has already occurred, your dental professional may recommend you see a dental specialist who is a periodontist, who can recommend more advanced procedures that help regenerate the bone and tissue you’ve lost.