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Causes of Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Everyone wants the gleaming white smile that they see in advertisements and on television, but there’s more to maintaining a beautiful smile than just veneers or tooth whitening. Unless you have a program of good oral hygiene, even the whitest teeth can develop disease and decay. Learning about gum disease and how to avoid gingivitis can help you maintain your beautiful, white teeth and healthy pink gums for a lifetime.

Do You Understand Gum Disease?

Gum disease, called gingivitis in its early stage, starts as inflammation and infection in the gum tissues. More than 75 percent of American adults have some stage of gum disease, but only about 15 percent of them are aware of it. More than 60 percent of older teens have gingivitis. If it’s not treated timely, then they can incur substantial damage to their teeth and gums, up to and including the loss of all their permanent teeth. Some of these statistics include the 30 percent of people who are genetically predisposed to gum disease but are unaware of it. For these people, diligent attention to their oral hygiene regimen is essential if they are to retain their natural teeth throughout their lifetime.

Gum disease is called gingivitis when it’s in the first stage, and it usually appears as swollen and red gums and may be characterized by bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this point, gingivitis can be successfully treated, and any damage it’s done can be reversed. However, if it’s not treated when it’s gingivitis, then it will progress to periodontal disease, which also can be treated, but any damage is permanent.

If periodontal disease remains untreated, then it will progress to periodontitis and then advanced periodontitis. By the time the disease reaches the advanced stage, then the ligaments that secure the teeth to the gum have been irreparably damaged, and the teeth will begin to loosen and fall out. The gum tissue will have been destroyed, and the jawbone will have eroded. The facial structure will be distorted, and there is no cure for the damage. The only solution at this point is reconstructive dental procedures that are costly, time-consuming, and painful. Gum disease is the primary cause of tooth loss in American adults, which is unfortunate because the disease is so easily prevented.

Will Gum Disease Cause Health Problems?

Gum disease, particularly the later stages of periodontal disease, has been linked to several major health problems, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Low birth weight in infants
  • Dementia

Statistically, people who have a history of periodontal disease can experience premature death and problems during pregnancy. This isn’t surprising since the bacteria and infections present in the later stages of periodontal disease will travel through the thin membranes in the mouth tissues to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream. They then travel to the major organs of the body and begin to cause damage. The bacteria that causes inflammation can adversely affect much of the body’s physiology, so if you have gum disease at any stage, you should consult your dentist without delay.

Most people have chronic periodontitis when they are in the later stages of gum disease. However, otherwise healthy individuals can develop aggressive periodontitis, which will destroy your gums and jaw bone very quickly. Those who have compromised immunity may develop necrotizing periodontitis, which causes the death of the tissues and ligaments in the gums and bone. However, only a dentist can diagnose these types of periodontal disease, so if you think you have gum disease, make an appointment with your South Hampton Roads dentist.

Are There Any Causes of Gum Disease That I Should Know?

The primary cause of gum disease is poor oral hygiene or insufficient oral hygiene. According to the American Dental Association, you should brush and floss at least twice each day, especially just before bedtime. If you brush and floss only once, that’s insufficient. Use an antibacterial mouthwash that carries the American Dental Association seal of approval, and be sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that have been approved by the American Dental Association.

Other causes of periodontal disease are:

  • Hormonal fluctuations that may cause the gums to be more sensitive
    Diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and HIV that lower the immune system
  • Prescription medications that have the side effect of dry mouth
  • Inadequate hydration
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Tobacco use

If your mouth is dry, then bacteria can linger and start the inflammation or an infection. Tobacco use, like some diseases, lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off bacteria and it contributes toxins to the mouth, so the gums aren’t able to heal the way they should. Additionally, a diet that’s high in processed sugar and carbohydrates provides the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, particularly if you have a dry mouth. You can maintain hydration simply by drinking several glasses of water each day. Make sure that you drink plain water with no flavoring or sweeteners.

What Symptoms Indicate the Presence of Gum Disease?

Although gum disease can be present without any symptoms, people usually become aware of it due to minor bleeding when they brush or floss. There may or may not be pain associated with it. If you notice bleeding during or after brushing or flossing, then make an appointment with your South Hampton Roads dentist.

Other indicators of gum disease include:

  • Habitual bad breath
  • Bite changes
  • A bad taste in your mouth
  • Receding gums
  • Loosened teeth
  • Inflamed gums
  • Swollen or sensitive gums

Any of these symptoms can indicate the presence of gum disease or another disease. Make an appointment with your dentist so that you can begin addressing the issue.

What Are the Most Important Things to Know About Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease begins as gingivitis. It can be cured and the damage reversed when it’s caught in this stage. By the time you’ve progressed to periodontal disease or advanced periodontitis, you can’t reverse the damage. You can only halt further progression of the disease. Don’t procrastinate if you think you have gum disease, address it immediately and keep your healthy teeth and mouth.

Can Gum Disease Be Prevented?

Gum disease can be easily prevented through a regimen of good oral hygiene as outlined by the American Dental Association. If you have questions, ask your dentist. You may not have any symptoms initially, so you need to have semi-annual checkups and cleanings at your dentist’s office. Pay attention to any changes in your mouth and any bleeding or other symptoms. By maintaining the best oral health you can, you’ll be more likely to keep a beautiful, bright smile throughout your life.

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