The purpose of Gum Disease Awareness Month in February is to raise awareness of what causes it and to encourage you to adhere to better oral health habits to keep it from developing in your smile. Sadly, periodontal disease affects 47.2% of adults over 30 in the U.S. and at an even higher rate (70.1%) for adults over 65 years! Gum disease doesn’t just affect your smile; it can also impact your general health. It can link to health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and premature births or low-birth-weight babies.
Gum disease is an infection of your soft oral tissues that become inflamed. Often this is caused by poor oral hygiene care. You want to brush and floss your teeth and gumline each day to remove harmful dental plaque. While gum disease typically starts slow, if the conditions causing are not addressed, it will generally worsen over time.
In the beginning, you may notice red, swollen gums, but unless treated, it can eventually cause the gums to pull away from your teeth. When this happens, you have advanced gum disease (periodontitis). At this stage, vital bone is lost, making your teeth become loose and even fall out!
The problem with poor oral hygiene habits is that plaque quickly hardens and spreads underneath your gums, where you can’t easily remove it. This is when our dental team has to remove this tartar accumulation and take additional steps to keep periodontitis from permanently damaging your smile.
Like most things, the best approach is prevention and then tackling gum disease in the early stage (gingivitis). All you need to do is brush and floss consistently every day as recommended by our dentist and follow up with our office for routine dental cleanings and exams. Once the disease has progressed to periodontitis, you will need more invasive treatments like cleaning the tooth roots under the gums (scaling) and root planing. Sometimes medication or gum surgery can help with treatment.
Recognizing the Stages of Gum Disease
Stage 1: It is easy to spot because your gums will look red, swollen, and inflamed, often bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth.
Stage 2: You start to lose bone density around the teeth.
Stage 3: Untreated, advancing periodontitis results in further bone loss and diminishing gum tissue (receding gums) and damage connective tissue around teeth, causing the teeth to feel loose.
Stage 4: If you ignore periodontitis, your symptoms worsen as well. Your teeth feel loose, and it might hurt to bite and chew your food. You may have the loose teeth extracted and replaced with a dental restoration at this stage.
Preventing gum disease is essential to keeping your smile healthy and beautiful! Thankfully, treating gum disease in the early stage can often reverse gingivitis altogether! Once it progresses, however, it won’t be reversible. Be sure to brush and floss every day as recommended by our dentist and hygienist, and stay on top of your routine dental cleanings and exams. Delaying professional dental care invites trouble with your teeth and gums and potentially harms your overall health.
Our team is ready to help you keep your teeth and gums as healthy as can be! We welcome you to join us in recognizing Gum disease awareness on social media and by helping your family realize how important daily dental care is to their confident smile and oral health. Call us today to schedule dental cleanings and exams for your best gum health!