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Gum disease is a serious problem that affects nearly half of the adult population in the United States. Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects gum tissues and bone supporting the teeth. It can cause teeth to loosen and lead to tooth loss.
Although symptoms of gum disease are often subtle, certain signs may point to some form of the disease.
Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is marked by red, swollen and bleeding gums. Although gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease, it can still progress to periodontitis if not treated properly.
Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease. Periodontitis not only affects the gums but also the bones and ligaments that support your teeth. Periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen or even fall out. The following are signs that you may have periodontitis:
– Persistent bad breath
– Tenderness or bleeding when brushing or flossing your teeth
– Gums that are red, swollen or receding
– Loose or shifting teeth
– Pus coming from your gums
Causes of Gum Disease
There are a variety of factors that can contribute to gum disease, including:
– Poor oral hygiene: Not brushing and flossing regularly can allow plaque and tartar to build up on your teeth, which can lead to inflammation of the gums.
– Certain medical conditions: Diseases like diabetes or arthritis can reduce saliva flow, which in turn can lead to an increase in plaque buildup and a higher risk for gum disease. Other conditions like HIV/AIDS or cancer can also weaken the immune system and make it harder for the body to fight off infection, including infections of the gums.
– Tobacco use: Smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products can increase your risk for developing gum disease. Tobacco products make it harder for your gums to heal from inflammation or infection and make you more susceptible to developing tartar on your teeth.
– Medications: Certain medications like antidepressants, anticonvulsants or calcium channel blockers can cause dry mouth, which can lead to an increased risk for gum disease.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
There are many factors that can increase your risk for developing gum disease. These include smoking, diabetes, pregnancy, genetic predisposition, certain medications, and poor oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene is the most significant factor in developing gum disease because it allows plaque and bacteria to build up around the teeth and gums, which leads to inflammation.
The Link Between Gum Disease and Overall Health
Recent studies have shown that there is a link between gum disease and overall health. Gum disease has been linked to an increased risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory diseases, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Therefore, it is important to take measures to prevent gum disease or treat it early if you do develop the condition.
Treatment Options for Gum Disease
If you have any of the aforementioned signs or risk factors for gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist right away so they can properly diagnose and treat the condition. In its early stages, gingivitis can be treated with a professional cleaning and improved at-home oral care routine that includes regular brushing and flossing. More advanced cases of periodontitis will require more intensive treatment, which may include deep cleanings, medication or surgery.
It’s important to note that once you have periodontitis, it’s a lifelong condition that must be managed with proper oral care at home as well as regular dental checkups and cleanings. However, with proper treatment, you can minimize symptoms and prevent further damage to your teeth and gums caused by periodontal disease.
However, if the bleeding is persistent or gets worse over time, it could be a sign of gum disease. Gum disease is a serious condition that can damage the gum tissue and even the underlying bone. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
Fortunately, gum disease is almost always completely preventable with good oral hygiene habits. Here are some tips for keeping your gums healthy and preventing gum disease:
How to Prevent Gum Disease
1. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
2. Use fluoride toothpaste to help prevent cavities.
3. Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth and below the gum line where your toothbrush can’t reach.
4. Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.
5. Quit smoking if you currently smoke tobacco products. Smoking is one of the leading causes of gum disease.
6. Eat a balanced diet and limit sugary snacks and drinks.
7. Control other health conditions such as diabetes because they can contribute to gum disease.
8. Use an antibacterial mouthwash if recommended by your dentist to help control plaque bacteria.
9 Use dental products that contain chlorhexidine such as prescription strength Crest Pro-Health HD Daily Two Step Toothpaste to help control plaque bacteria between dental visits. If bleeding gums are persistent or getting worse over time despite practicing good oral hygiene habits, make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible so they can determine the cause of the bleeding and provide treatment if necessary.
Gum disease is a serious condition that should not be taken lightly. If you think you may have gum disease, it’s important to see a dentist right away so they can properly diagnose and treat the condition before it progresses into something more serious. With proper treatment, you can minimize symptoms and prevent further damage caused by periodontal disease. Bleeding gums are usually nothing to worry about but in some cases, they can be a sign of a more serious condition like gum disease which if left untreated can lead to tooth loss.
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