Gum Disease 101: What You Don’t Know Can Kill You

With approximately 64 million individuals worldwide suffering from moderate to severe gum disease, maintaining your dental hygiene is important. While many people hold the common belief that dental hygiene is important only for cosmetic purposes, it actually helps to keep your body healthy overall. In fact, gum disease is responsible for various health issues including heart disease, stroke, preterm labor and stillbirth, and even cancer.

A Fatal Problem: Gum Disease

Gum disease is a more common word used for periodontal disease. It occurs when the gums and bones around the teeth become infected. Symptoms of this are

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Bleeding

The two stages of gum disease are periodontitis and gingivitis. While one is worse than the other, both are harmful to your overall health. Let’s explore the differences below.

  • Gingivitis: Plaque build up is the culprit of this disease, and it is fairly common and much less severe than periodontitis. The germs and bacteria that make up plaque leave a sticky film on your teeth (biofilm) and forms tartar if it isn’t properly removed through frequent brushing. This sticky, bacteria infested film infects the gums and causes bleeding and redness.
  • Periodontitis: This is a progression from gingivitis. It is a more serious form of gum disease and not as common as gingivitis is. This occurs when deposits penetrate down into the lower gum line, causing the gum to actually separate from the teeth which form gaps known as periodontal pockets. Symptoms of periodontitis are painful chewing, bleeding, swelling, and tooth loss or misalignment. Other less common symptoms are bad breath, sores inside the mouth, and tooth sensitivity. Pyorrhea can also occur with periodontitis, and is a puss that is emitted from the infected gums.

Preventing Gum Disease

The best defense is a good offense, and regular brushing, flossing, and maintaining your regular dental appointments is the best way to prevent gum disease from occurring. Your dentist will do their part to check for any signs of gum disease, which is why it is so important to adhere to your 6-month appointments. In order to check for any infection or pockets in the gums, they will probe your teeth and gums.

If you suffer from gum disease, you aren’t alone. Millions of people suffer from gum disease in various forms, and the best way to treat this and prevent it from becoming worse is to maintain regular dental appointments, keep up on brushing and flossing, and watch for the warning signs of gum disease. Many people avoid the dentist out of fear or anxiety, but this is one of the worst courses of actions you can take. Make sure to make (and keep) your 6-month dental appointments to maintain proper gum health.