Did you know that nearly half of all adults aged 30 years or older show signs of gum disease? Gum disease, also often called Periodontal disease, may start in your mouth but the effects don’t end there. What exactly is gum disease, how does it impact you, and how can you prevent it? Get answers to these crucial questions as you read along and discover how you can partner with the Smile Center to achieve optimal oral health!
Why does gum disease happen?
Gum disease is a lot like the name sounds—an infection of your gums that’s caused by plaque. The buildup of plaque typically happens when good brushing and flossing aren’t in place. When plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, isn’t removed regularly, it hardens and irritates your gums.
This irritation ultimately causes redness, swelling, soreness, and even bleeding or receding gums.
Can you see gum disease?
The answer to this question can be both yes and no, so ultimately it depends on the specific circumstances. As mentioned before, gum disease can cause swelling, bleeding, receding gums, etc., so symptoms would be visible at this point.
However, it’s also possible to have gum disease and not experience any noticeable symptoms at all. In fact, the earlier that gum disease is detected, the less likely it is that you will experience any noticeable symptoms, especially visible ones. The key to early detection is regularly visiting a dentist. They will be able to recognize the signs, get a full view of your mouth, and keep your mouth adequately clean to help prevent plaque buildup.
How gum disease affects your body
There’s a bigger connection between gum disease and your body than you might think at first glance. Gum disease is linked to a variety of other things you might find surprising.
Gum disease and diabetes
Diabetes that isn’t well-controlled leads to higher blood sugar levels in your saliva. This leads to a growth of bacteria in the mouth that can cause gum disease to develop. Infections from untreated gum disease in those with diabetes can lead to higher blood sugar levels and make it difficult to control diabetes.
Ultimately, maintaining optimum oral health should be a priority for people with diabetes.
Gum disease and bone loss
If gum disease progresses, it can lead to an advanced stage called periodontitis. The severe inflammation can lead your teeth to loosen or fall out altogether. Your risk for developing this severe form of gum disease is increased by several factors including smoking/chewing tobacco, poor nutrition, certain medicines that cause dry mouth or gum changes, and conditions that lower immunity.
Notifying your dentist of any underlying health conditions or new medications can help them be on the lookout for signs related to this issue.
Gum disease from smoking
Those who smoke put themselves at risk for a variety of health problems, including gum disease. Smokers have double the risk of developing gum disease than those who are non-smokers.
In addition, smoking can make treatments for gum disease not work as well. Quitting can help the gums heal and adjust much better to any needed treatments.
Gum disease with braces
Having braces doesn’t cause gum disease. But having them does tend to make it a bit difficult to properly clean your teeth. Regularly visiting a dentist for cleanings is extra important while wearing braces.
What if you have gum disease and want to get braces? The two aren’t entirely incompatible and it is possible to get braces if you have a mild form of gum disease that’s under control. But more advanced gum disease that leads to a loss of bone can make it impossible to get braces since braces require healthy tissue in order to keep your teeth in place.
Why is gum disease linked to the heart?
Research suggests that bacteria present in gum disease can actually travel throughout the body. This bacteria then ends up triggering inflammation in the heart’s vessels and infection in the valves of the heart.
This may be why people with gum disease have two to three times the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or other cardiovascular event. Most people will take their heart health seriously, so that means taking care of your teeth is just as important!
Gum disease: breaking it down
Now it’s clear how gum disease happens and how it’s linked to your overall health. But what exactly should you be on the lookout for and how can you get a diagnosis if necessary?
Gum disease vs. gingivitis
Gingivitis is the most mild and common form of gum disease. It doesn’t lead to bone loss but should be taken seriously since prompt treatment is the best way to reverse the issue before it turns into a bigger problem.
Look for: swollen and puffy gums, gums that are darker than usual, gums that bleed easily when you floss, bad breath
If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Is it possible to have gum disease but no cavities?
Surprisingly, yes. Many people have the idea in their head that cavities are the ultimate sign of bad oral health. So some might think that if they have gum disease, they would have to have cavities too. But this isn’t the case.
Gum disease is an issue with the gums themselves, not the teeth (although it can impact the teeth if it gets bad enough). Cavities are a problem within the teeth and are often more noticeable than gum disease because they draw attention by causing aching pain.
Whether you suspect you have cavities or gum disease, it’s wise to plan a trip to the dentist.
How to get a gum disease diagnosis
Ultimately the only way to diagnose gum disease is to visit a dentist. You can’t diagnose the problem on your own no matter how many of the symptoms you’re experiencing because gum disease has many different levels of severity and x-rays may be needed to get the full picture.
Plus, you may not be experiencing any symptoms at all.
If you’ve visited a dentist in the past and had a bad experience, please note that we offer a free consultation and second opinion visit option that’s a talk-only visit with no oral examination and offers you the opportunity to ask any questions you have. Your oral health is our priority!
Gum disease—can it be reversed?
Only the first stage of gum disease, also called “gingivitis,” can be reversed. After it progresses past this point, the teeth and gums will have sustained some damage that is irreversible and it won’t be possible to completely eliminate the infection.
But even if you’re diagnosed with a more advanced stage of gum disease, it’s essential to remember that regular dental care, by both you and your dentist, can keep it under control.
We offer a full spectrum of dental care from basic cleanings to cosmetic dentistry to dental implants. No matter where you end up in your dental journey, we can meet you where you need us to be.
Gum diseases causes problems—let us be your solution
Gum disease can cause a variety of problems but the Smile Center can help provide the solution to people in the Buffalo, NY area. Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how gum disease occurs, it’s time to take action! Why not start by scheduling an appointment to get your teeth cleaned? You can view our current offers and discounts here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need assistance!