According to the American Dental Hygienists Association, it’s a problem for 4 out of 5 Americans. We are talking about gum disease, also known as periodontal disease.
The good news if you live in or near Rochester, MN, is that our team at Lakeside Dentistry is here to help you fight this problem. Whether you need a dental cleaning for preventive care or you need gum disease treatment, we are on your side. To make an appointment, call 507-316-6444.
With that in mind, we want to share six facts that everyone should know about gum disease.
■ 1. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the U.S.
Many people are surprised to learn this. You might think cavities or even accidents cause more tooth loss than gum disease, but you’d be wrong.
The good news, according to the National Institutes of Health, is that periodontal disease has been declining among older adults since the 1970s. Even so, it remains a threat to your smile.
■ 2. Gingivitis is the mild form of gum disease.
Healthy gums look pink, and they feel firm. When you have gingivitis, your gums may look red, swollen, or both.
Another big clue that you have gingivitis is bleeding. If your gums bleed when you brush or floss, then you know there is a good chance that you have an infection.
To treat gingivitis, you may just need to make sure you are brushing (twice per day) and flossing (once a day) and getting regular dental cleanings and exams. Coincidentally, this is the best way to prevent gingivitis, too.
Remember: Your gums are not supposed to bleed. If they do, there is a problem.
■ 3. Periodontitis is the advanced form of gum disease.
Periodontitis progresses in stages, and unfortunately, many people wait too long to do something about it. This is why gum disease causes so much tooth loss.
Please schedule an appointment at Lakeside Dentistry as soon as you are able if you notice one or more of these symptoms:
▸ Gums that feel sore or painful
▸ Gums that hurt when you bite or chew
▸ Gums that bleed easily
▸ Gums that are receding or separating from your teeth
▸ Bad breath that doesn’t go away
▸ Teeth that feel loose in their sockets
Periodontitis can be treated, but it will take more than being more disciplined about brushing and flossing.
Through a process called scaling and root planing, we can remove much of the bacteria, plaque, and tartar that may have formed around the roots of your teeth. If further treatment is needed, we will discuss those options with you.
■ 4. Your risk of gum disease increases when you are pregnant.
We know this isn’t fair, but it is one of the realities of life.
When you are pregnant your body release hormones that help your baby develop in the womb. Unfortunately, these same hormones also help the bacteria that cause gum disease.
If you are pregnant or are planning to become pregnant, keep this in mind. Don’t neglect your oral care during this special time in your life.
■ 5. Gum disease has been linked to several other health issues.
Since we just mentioned pregnancy, we want you to know that mothers with periodontal disease may be up to seven times more likely to have premature babies or babies with low birth weight.
Research has also shown that patients with gum disease are more likely to have heart disease.
Anyone with diabetes should also be concerned about gum disease. Having diabetes increases your risk for gum disease, and some research suggests that gum disease can make it more difficult to control your blood sugar levels.
■ 6. Using tobacco greatly increases your odds of having gum disease.
You already have many reasons to avoid or quit using tobacco, and you can add gum health to the list.
Following a study by its researchers, the Centers for Disease Control reported that patients who smoke less than a half a pack of cigarettes daily are three times more likely to have gum disease than nonsmokers. The study also indicated that more tobacco use led to a greater risk. Subjects who smoked a pack and a half daily were six times more likely than nonsmokers to have gum disease.