Preventing gum disease and keeping this stealthy villain away may require super-hero efforts.
Gum disease (aka periodontal disease) is now considered to be one of the most common diseases in our country. 85% of Americans suffer from some form of it, yet most aren’t aware they have it, until, well, they already have it. Why? Gum disease is often overlooked. It’s painless, for the most part, and its symptoms usually don’t appear until an advanced stage.
So, what exactly is gum disease? It’s an inflammation of the gums caused by a bacterial infection that originates from plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on our teeth. Left untreated, gum disease will interfere with your gums’ ability to properly hold your teeth, which can result in loose teeth, and eventual tooth loss.
When it comes to harming your oral health, gum disease is stealthy, but it’s also a chronic disease that can sabotage your overall health. The bacteria in your mouth that causes gum disease may also increase your risk for developing other serious health conditions. Because our bodies have to work overtime to fight off the bacteria infection of gum disease, it can make us more susceptible to other diseases. Studies have shown that there is a connection between gum disease and obesity, heart disease, diabetes, strokes, and cancer (men are 14% more at risk). And now findings from a recent study claim that people with gum disease may have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. So, how do you know if you have gum disease?
5 Signs You May Have Gum Disease
- Your gums bleed easily.
- You have red, swollen or tender gums.
- Your gums have started to pull away from your teeth, creating gum recession or pocketing. As gum disease advances, it can create spaces between your teeth and your gums, forming “pockets”. These pockets trap loose food particles, which makes the bacterial infection worse.
- You consistently have bad breath, or notice a bad taste in your mouth.
- You notice a change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite.
What’s the number one risk factor for gum disease? Poor daily oral hygiene. Forgetting to brush and floss every day allows the bacteria causing plaque in your mouth to build up and stimulate the inflammation of your gums. Other factors include smoking or chewing tobacco; your genetics and family history; teeth grinding; crooked teeth, which are difficult to keep clean; hormonal changes, from pregnancy or menopause; and certain medications.
Treating Gum Disease
The good news, gum disease can be prevented, and it can be stopped. And you don’t quite need super-hero efforts to do it either. You just need to be mindful of it, and enlist a little help from your friendly Burien neighborhood gum disease fighting dentist, Kyle Beffa and his team. Maintaining good daily oral hygiene and scheduling bi-annual cleanings and dental exams will go a long way to preventing this disease. But sometimes even this may not be enough to prevent gum disease, particularly if you’re genetically predisposed to the disease. That’s why Dr. Beffa and our hygienists will check for early signs of gum disease at every teeth cleaning, checking for those pesky pockets. Having a number three or above generally indicates the presence of gum disease. And the higher the number will indicate that you have a more advanced infection.
Should you have gum disease, even moderate to severe gum disease is treatable. Your treatment options will be based on the stage of your gum disease. And the goal of your treatment will be to eliminate, or reduce, inflammation, and decrease depth of any pockets.
The first step to preventing, or overcoming, gum disease begins with a little awareness, practicing good oral hygiene, and visiting your dentist. Keeping your gums healthy will keep you healthy. Stand back, gum disease, it’s “clobbering time”!
You’ve got the power to stop or prevent gum disease. If you’re notice any signs of gum disease, or believe you may have several risk factors for getting it, please let us know – just call us at (206) 242-0066. Dr. Beffa will determine whether you have gum disease, or you’re at risk of getting it, and what types of treatment options will work best to treat your stage of gum disease.