According to some data sets, as many as 85% of adult Americans have some form of gum disease, a condition that, alarmingly, is still on the rise. If it goes untreated, gum disease can cause some serious oral and overall health problems. As you continue reading, find out about these issues, what symptoms to be on the lookout for, and ways to prevent the disease.
GUM DISEASE – IT ALL STARTS WITH BACTERIA
Bacteria are always present in the mouth; however, when foods are eaten and beverages other than water are consumed, particles are left behind. If they aren’t cleared away with proper dental hygiene, then they can eventually form into plaque, a clear, sticky substance that clings to the teeth and gums.
Over time, plaque can work its way beneath the gum line to cause germ pockets to form, which is one of the first stages of gum (periodontal) disease. If ignored, the bacteria will continue to cause more damage, and the disease can progress through these stages.
PHASE #1 – GINGIVITIS
This is the best time to treat gum disease because any damage that has been done is usually reversible with some oral hygiene changes and mild treatment. Therefore, if you’ve noticed the following warning signs, you should immediately contact your dentist so you can be examined:
- Gums that easily bleed
- Chronically-bad breath
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Increased sensitivity to the touch
- Red spots or bumps on the gums
PHASE #2 – PERIODONTITIS
If the initial symptoms are ignored, the disease can advance to periodontitis. At this point, there will have been some permanent damage done, which can include bone and ligament loss.
PHASE #3 – ADVANCED PERIODONTITIS
At this stage of gum disease, the roots can be dissolved, which can lead to shifting or the teeth eventually falling out. Furthermore, as the infection worsens, it can be transported throughout the blood to other parts of the body.
GUM DISEASE AND YOUR OVERALL HEALTH
Treating gum disease is not just vital for restoring your oral health, but it also can impact your total wellness. That’s because the plaque that forms in your mouth and that causes inflammation can eventually travel throughout the body to create toxic environments.
Links have been found between untreated gum disease and the following life-threatening conditions:
- Oral Cancer
- Heart Disease
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)
PREVENTIVE MEASURES YOU CAN TAKE
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice excellent oral hygiene, which should include brushing and flossing your teeth at least two times a day. You should also monitor your sugar intake since that is the preferred food for bacteria.
Then, to further boost your efforts, it’s of the utmost importance to visit your dentist semi-annually for cleanings and examinations. By taking these steps, you can rest assured that you’re protected from gingivitis in Austin!
About the Author
Dr. Hector Carlos Tijerina is a graduate of the prestigious Baylor College of Dentistry, and he has nearly a decade of experience enhancing oral health. He helps patients avoid and recover from gum disease at Parkfield Family Dental, and he can be reached for more information through his website.