According to a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 47% of adults in America have gum disease. That’s an estimated 64.7 million people.
The numbers rise with age, as 64% of adults over the age of 65 also had gum disease.
What causes gum disease? How serious is it? Is brushing and flossing enough to maintain your periodontal health?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions and more.
How to Check Your Periodontal Health
The first step in improving your periodontal health is learning how to identify the symptoms of gum disease. Let’s look at a few of the most common signs now.
Red, Inflamed, and Bleeding Gums
Many of us have noticed bleeding when brushing or flossing.
However, just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you can ignore it.
Bleeding gums are often uncomfortable and painful. Plus, they are likely a sign of a more serious issue.
Bleeding that is related to gum disease is caused by the buildup of bacteria, plaque, and tartar. This buildup irritates the gums and causes them to become inflamed. This means that extra blood is pumped into that area in an attempt to fight back.
Many people think flossing is the cause of their bleeding gums, but in fact, it is the solution. Regular flossing should help to remove the buildup over time. Eventually, it will cause your gums to bleed less and less.
If your gums are bleeding when you eat, or spontaneously bleeding without a stimulus, it’s time to get to the dentist. This could be a sign of more advanced gum disease that needs to be addressed immediately.
Sore or Tender Gums
Inflamed gums will eventually become sore and painful. This is likely a sign of poor periodontal health.
You can help heal sore gums by improving your diet, focusing more on your oral hygiene, and adding a mouthwash to your daily routine.
Mouthwash can also be a helpful way to clear out the buildup of bacteria and plaque that is causing gum sensitivity.
You should then be able to brush and floss more effectively. Eventually, you’ll see an improvement in the condition.
When tartar buildup is winning the fight against your gums, they’ll start to recede.
In addition to gum disease, receding gums could be worsened or caused by pressing too hard when you brush.
You can use the “three finger trick” to help you. Only hold your manual toothbrush between your thumb, index, and middle finger, rather than the whole force of your fist.
Even better, get a great electric toothbrush that will alert you when you are applying too much pressure.
Gum recession exposes the roots of the teeth, which opens the door for infection.
Problems that start in the mouth don’t just end there. Bad oral hygiene could open the door for infections entering the bloodstream. This could affect all areas of your health.
Bad breath, or halitosis, is not normal for people with good periodontal health.
Although it does not cause additional long-term health problems, bad breath can be extremely problematic to your professional life, personal life, and self-esteem.
You can mask bad breath with mints, gum, or sprays. However, in order to rid yourself of it on a more permanent basis, you must get to the root cause of the problem.
The bacteria build up that causes gum disease also is one of the common causes of bad breath.
When you eat food, particles are left behind on your teeth.
Good bacteria in your saliva helps to break these particles down. As this breakdown occurs, sulfur compounds are released. This is what causes bad breath.
With good oral hygiene, this is hardly noticeable. Instead, bad breath is more commonly associated with eating stinky foods like onions and garlic.
With poor oral hygiene, this bacteria is constantly trying to break down the leftover or stuck food particles. This is what causes persistent bad breath.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by a build up of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that builds up on our teeth naturally every day from the food and drinks we consume.
Daily brushing and flossing helps to remove this build up of plaque. If it is not removed, however, it hardens into tartar. That’s when you have a real problem on your hands (or teeth, rather).
Tatar is so latched onto your teeth that it can only be removed at the dentist office. This is why it is so important to have bi-annual cleaning appointments.
Tatar loves the space right at your gum line or in between your teeth that is often missed by brushing. It will quickly cause your gums to react by becoming inflamed, bleeding, and more.
It is also important to note that smoking cigarettes can double your chance of gum disease.
This is because it weakens the body’s ability to fight infections. Additionally, the smoke washes harmful chemicals over your teeth and gums.
How To Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease in its early stages, known as gingivitis, is completely reversible.
Your dentist will be able to provide a personalized care routine to help you reverse gingivitis and prevent it in the future.
The most common ways to fight back include daily brushing and flossing.
If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, you should schedule a check up with your dentist. Since gum disease is progressive, the sooner you address the issue, the better.
In the worst case scenarios, advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, grows to affect the bones in your mouth and could cause tooth loss. Nobody wants that!
Now You Know
Questions? Leave us a reply in the comments below.
If you’re in the Birmingham, AL area, contact Doug Lewis Dentistry for your next cleaning today.
We are experienced in periodontics and will be able to get you on the right track to the good periodontal health you deserve.
Call us at 205-933-2460 Monday through Friday to schedule an appointment.