Gum Disease Is Life-Threatening And Most Don’t Know It
Most people don’t like to think about the possibility of having gum disease. As a matter of fact, it’s a pretty scary thought. What most people are unaware of is that it can be life-threatening. Recent research has provided sound evidence that gum disease is linked to many life-threatening illnesses and diseases.
What Is Periodontal or Gum Disease
Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the bone and tissues that surround your teeth. If your gums are “tight” and pink in color, that is a sign that your gums are healthy. If the gums are red, inflamed, and become spongy, this is the sign of gum disease and can cause your infected teeth to become loose.
Gum disease is caused when there is a build of plaque caused by bacteria. This plaque produces toxins and enzymes that irritate the gums causing infection and inflammation. This is followed often by gums that are tender and bleed when brushing.
The American Dental Association has said that periodontal disease has been linked to heart disease, respiratory problems, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, premature births, and rheumatoid arthritis. This potential health problem should never be ignored and if you have the symptoms of gum disease, you should get in to see a dentist right away before the problem worsens.
What Are The Common Symptoms of Gum Disease:
- Swollen gums
- Dark build-up between the teeth
- Bleeding gums when you brush your teeth or floss
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Decaying teeth
Gum Disease Risk Factors
The main cause of this condition is plaque build-up on the teeth. However, there are other factors that can affect the health of your gums:
- Your age is a factor as studies have shown that older people have higher rates of gum disease. It is estimated that 70% of Americans 65 and older have periodontal disease.
- Smoking and other tobacco use have proven to increase your chances of gum disease.
- Genetics can play a role in gum disease. Studies have shown that some people are more likely to develop gum disease even if they have an excellent oral hygiene program.
- Stress has been linked to gum disease as stress makes it more difficult to fight off infections like gum disease.
- Some medications such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, and certain heart medications can affect your gum health.
- Clenching and grinding your teeth can damage the tissue of your gums and speed up the rate at which they are destroyed.
- Other systemic diseases can affect gum health by worsening your body’s inflammatory system.
- Poor nutrition and obesity have also proven to affect gum health. Because gum disease begins with an infection, poor nutrition can worsen your gums.
It is possible for a patient to detect any of these signs, but usually, people can have gum disease without even knowing it. For instance, most people just ignore bleeding gums when flossing, but this can actually be a sign of periodontal disease.
How We Determine The Severity of Gum Disease
We can assess how severe your gum disease may be by conducting what is called a periodontal probe in order to measure the pocket depth. A health pocket around your teeth is about 3mm or less deep. The greater the depth of the pocket the more severe the gum disease is.
If the pocket around your teeth attracts food particles, tartar or bacteria, the gums and bone will pull back and off the tooth root. This is called gum recession. The resulting condition is a deeper pocket which leads to a progressive breakdown of the tissue and the bone. If you experience large amounts of bone loss, it will lead to more tooth loss.
How Do We Treat Gum Disease
We must remove the plaque and tartar that are contributing to the build-up of bacteria in the mouth causing the disease.
We treat the disease based on the severity of it in your case. If you have the early stages of periodontal disease, which is called gingivitis, we typically do a routine cleaning and the infection is gone after a couple of visits.
If the disease is more severe, we will typically do a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing. This is followed by using an antibiotic called ARESTIN in the pockets of the teeth.
When the treatment is finished, we generally want you to come back in for a follow-up visit. We check the pockets again and go over a plan for you to do at home to help keep your teeth and gums in better condition. Most people are not aware that when you are diagnosed with gum disease, you most likely will always have it.
If your gums are tender, swollen, and bleeding, then you need to see a dentist right away. Gum disease should never be taken lightly and should receive your immediate attention.