What You Need to Know About Gum Disease and Gum Care
September is National Gum Care Awareness Month, so it’s the perfect time to brush up on gum disease. According to a study quoted on the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) website, “nearly half (46%) of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease; severe gum disease affects about 9% of adults.”
Those numbers might surprise you, but they sound about right to us. That’s because gum disease can be hard to notice if you don’t know what you’re looking for. We can help with that.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the tissue that forms the base for your teeth in your jaws. You might have also heard the Latin word gingiva, which refers to your gums as well. Gingivitis refers to an early or mild stage of gum disease, while periodontitis refers to an advanced or acute stage.
How Do You Spot Gum Disease?
When your gums are healthy, they look healthy and they feel healthy. Looking healthy means they are pale pink, firm, and closely fitted to your teeth. Feeling healthy means they’re not puffy or sore, and they don’t bleed when you brush or floss.
If you notice discomfort or bleeding during your normal oral care routine, you might have gingivitis. Talking to us right away can go a very long way toward avoiding bigger problems.
Signs that the gum disease might be progressing beyond gingivitis to full-blown periodontitis include:
- Pain when chewing
- Darker coloring in your gums
- Increase in bleeding gums
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Bad breath
- Receding gums
- More space between teeth
- Teeth loosening or falling out
- Changes in your bite
What Can Happen When You Have Gum Disease?
Beyond the discomfort, pain, and appearance changes, gum disease has real impacts on your oral and overall health. If left unchecked, it can lead to cavities, root canals, tooth loss, and even bone deterioration. Furthermore, many studies show links between gum disease and other serious chronic illnesses like heart disease and autoimmune conditions. That’s a lot of reasons to be aware and pay close attention!
Gum Care: What are the Causes and Options for Prevention and Treatment of Gum Disease?
The causes of gum disease are the same things we talk about and help you with all the time: plaque and tartar. Plaque forms daily as the normal bacteria in your mouth interact with the food you eat. Tartar forms as the plaque hardens on your teeth.
That’s why it’s so important to have a healthy oral hygiene routine that
includes brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Your semiannual dental cleaning and checkups in the dental office reinforce the work you do daily by removing any tartar that has built up, identifying and treating any gum disease or other issues that may have arisen since your last visit.
Treatment depends on your specific situation, including the severity of the gum disease and other individual factors. It can include various forms of deep cleaning, some medications, and even surgeries.
But our goal is for you not to get to that point! If you’re doing your job and we’re doing ours, we can prevent the progression of gum disease in most cases.
So now you know! You can recognize National Gum Care Awareness Month with a self-inspection, a refresh of your oral hygiene routine, and maybe even a visit to see us!
We look forward to your next preventative visit and welcome you anytime you need us. To schedule your visit now, complete our contact form, or call our office at (708) 448-7588.