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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

What Can You Tell Me About Gum Disease?

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease within the medical community) is a harmful condition that can significantly impact the health of your gums and teeth, as well as your overall physical health. Periodontal disease is a group of conditions that results in eventual tooth loss. It can also lead to some potentially dangerous health conditions. To ensure that you’re able to both prevent and catch the disease before it is in the later stages and unable to be reversed, it’s best that you become educated on the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease.

The Impacts of Gum Disease on Health

It’s a common misconception that only old people get gum disease. The majority of American adults (an estimated 75 percent) have some type of gum disease. Most people aren’t even aware that they have it. In addition to that, nearly 60 percent of teenagers are afflicted with the disease. Establishing a good oral health care routine can help to prevent it, however, there are around 30 percent of people who are genetically predisposed to developing gum disease. Even for those people, they are able to manage their condition via the use of consistent dental care habits and regular trips to the dentist that keep the disease from advancing. The best tool you have to treat, prevent and reverse gum disease damage is your dental care routine. Another excellent tool you have is an extensive knowledge of the signs and symptoms so that you can recognize the warning signs.

When bacteria begins to build up within the gum tissues, it causes the gums to become inflamed. This is called gingivitis. It is the earliest form of gum disease. If you are experiencing gums that are red, swollen or that bleed whenever you brush or floss your teeth, then you most likely have gingivitis. It’s important that you get gingivitis treated, or else it could lead to an advanced form of periodontal disease that can cause your teeth to fall out.

Can You Tell Me About the Causes of Periodontal Disease?

Just like with cavities and tooth decay, gum disease is mainly caused by plaque and the bacteria that exists within plaque. There are also specific age, gender and lifestyle factors that can have an impact on the health of your gums. If you fall under any of the below categories, it’s important that you pay special attention to your oral health.

  • Hormonal changes. Since women experience a number of hormone fluctuations due to pregnancy, puberty, menopause and menstruation, they are at a greater risk of developing gingivitis. This is because the frequent hormone changes cause the gums to become more sensitive.
  • Illnesses. Patients who have diseases such as HIV, cancer and diabetes are at a much greater risk of developing other infections. These infections include gum disease and cavities.
  • Medications. Dry mouth is a common side effect in many prescription drugs. This ailment leads to a decrease in the production of saliva within the mouth, causing bacteria to remain in the mouth for longer periods of time.
  • Poor lifestyle habits. Participating in activities such as smoking or chewing tobacco can cause your gums to become damaged by the toxins within the tobacco. It can also lead to the gums being unable to heal themselves.
  • Dental care neglect. While it may be tempting to skip brushing and flossing every now and then, it’s important to know that this increases the number of bacteria in your mouth. Failing to see your dentist regularly also leads to more bacteria being present.

How to Know If You Have Gum Disease

Many patients are surprised to learn that they have gum disease. That’s because the disease frequently doesn’t show any symptoms until it has progressed into a more advanced form. Some of the signs that you need to watch out for include:

  • Bleeding gums whenever you brush your teeth
  • Gums that are tender, red or swollen
  • Bad breath that won’t go away
  • A bad taste in the mouth that won’t go away
  • Receding gum line
  • “Pockets” forming in between the teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that shift around a lot
  • Changes in bite or in the way that denture fit

Things You Need to Know About Gum Disease

Gum disease occurs when gingivitis is never treated. Once the disease has gone beyond gingivitis, it will attack the inner layer of gums and bone, causing them to separate from the teeth. This creates little pockets that collect debris and form infections. As the disease continues to progress, it will wear the gum line away and cause instability in your teeth.

The more advanced stages of the disease consist of the toxins present within plaque invading the area beneath the gums. This causes irritation and inflammation that leads to the degradation of the bone and tissue underneath the teeth. As the bone and tissue becomes degraded, it causes them to separate further and continues destroying the supporting bone and tissue. The teeth then become loose and may fall out or need to be removed. Diabetes, heart ailments and respiratory disease are common systemic diseases that are often found alongside periodontitis.

There are different forms of periodontitis that you can be diagnosed with. These include:

  • Chronic periodontitis. This is a condition where the gum tissues become inflamed and you slowly lose attachment of the teeth and gums.
  • Aggressive periodontitis. This is a condition where bone and gum attachments are lost rather rapidly.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis. This is a condition where the periodontal ligaments, gum tissue and bone die off.

How Can I Prevent Periodontal Disease?

  • Eat a balanced diet that is low in sugars and starches.
  • Brush after every meal. If you can’t do that, brush twice a day and rinse your mouth out with water whenever you eat.
  • Thoroughly floss all areas of your mouth at least once a day.
  • Rinse with a mouthwash after you’ve brushed your teeth for a minimum of 60 seconds.

See Your Dentist to Protect Yourself From Gum Disease

The best way to ensure that periodontal disease doesn’t steal your smile is to see your dentist on a routine basis. To learn more about how one of our experienced dentists in South Bend can help you to treat, prevent and manage gum disease, contact our office today.

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