August 5, 2016
A dentist looks at many aspects of your smile. We look at the health of the teeth. We look at the function of the teeth. And we also look at the beauty of the teeth. But we also monitor the health of your gums. Your gums play an important role in your oral health and overall health. And that’s what I want to talk to you about today: the health of your gums.
Gum disease, clinically known as periodontal disease, has been tied to some terrible overall health diseases and can be a painful and destructive problem. It’s a problem that we can address in our office, but it’s also possible for this problem to spread quickly throughout your mouth if left untreated. So today we have a few facts about gum disease.
• Gum disease claims more teeth than anything. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Yes, gum disease is more menacing than tooth decay. Here’s why. Gum disease occurs when an infection is present in the gums. This starts with bleeding or swelling of the gums. But in the later stages of gum disease, the infection can cause the teeth and gums to pull apart. Gum disease can also reach the bone and loosen the tooth in the socket. If left untreated, gum disease can spread throughout your entire mouth and claim a number of teeth.
• Some of us face a higher risk of gum disease. While some forms of gum disease will affect about 75 percent of people, there are some people who face an even higher risk of gum disease. Smokers or tobacco users face a higher risk of gum disease, and people who have heart disease or diabetes face a higher risk of gum disease. Though there is no direct cause and effect, research shows that people with heart disease or diabetes are likely to also have gum disease. Expectant mothers also face a higher risk of gum disease because of hormonal changes and the influx of inflammation in the body.
• Gum disease is not always curable. The early stages of gum disease, which we call gingivitis, can be reversed. Most of us will struggle with gingivitis or bleeding or swollen gums, and we can manage and reverse it. But if we ignore the early signs of gum disease, it can lead to full-blown periodontal disease, a condition that does not have a known cure. If you have periodontal disease, you’ll need constant care and maintenance for the rest of your life. The bacteria that creates gum disease multiples and spreads in the mouth quickly, so we recommend that patients with gum disease visit our office about once every three to four months.
• Bad breath often comes from gum disease. It’s possible that bad breath can come from foods, but more often than not, chronic bad breath is caused by gum disease. Gum disease is formed from bacteria in the mouth. When you do not properly clean your teeth, food debris and bacteria gets trapped between your teeth and in your gums. If you have consistent problems with bad breath, your gums may be the culprit.
• How to defend against gum disease. Floss is your best defender against gum disease. About 35 percent of your tooth is beneath the gum line, and the best way to clean that part of the tooth is with dental floss. Think about that fact the next time you want to not floss. You’re the first line of defense against dental disease, but your dentist can also help. Our office puts a big emphasis on gum health. We offer scaling and root planing to remove tartar buildup and bacteria below the gum line. In cases where you’ve lost bone structure or gum structure, we can offer gum grafting.
We hope you understand that your mouth and the rest of your body or connected. Bad gums can mean discomfort and potentially tooth loss. If you want to save your teeth, practice great oral hygiene by brushing and flossing every single day. You can also call our office today at 828-355-5673 to schedule a visit.