For most people, February means hearts and chocolates and romantic, one-on-one dinners. For dental health professionals, it means Gum Disease Awareness Month.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a shockingly common and potentially dangerous condition. The Centers for Disease Control says that it affects half of Americans over the age of 30 and 70 percent of Americans over 65. That’s about 64.7 million people!
Early diagnosis and intervention are critical, as the condition becomes more difficult to treat as it progresses. Left unchecked, it ravages your gum tissue and leads to tooth loss. And that’s only the beginning. An ever-growing body of research demonstrates that the health of your mouth is intricately tied to the overall health of your body.
At Texas Grins Cosmetic and Implant Dentistry, we believe in aggressive gum infection treatment. We also believe in regular checkups to catch problems as early as possible. Call our Willow Park, TX office at 817-779-7111 to book an appointment
Gum Disease Is an Infection
Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums and surrounding structures of the teeth, and it is caused by bacteria. It is divided up into two main types that are actually degrees of severity.
Gingivitis is the early and less severe stage of the infection. If afflicted, you may notice that your gum tissue is swollen, tender, or bleeds when you brush or floss. Or you have no idea that you have it, as gingivitis often presents no symptoms at all. That’s just one reason why dental checkups every six months are so important. In addition to other issues, we will be able to detect problems with your gums before noticeable symptoms arise.
If your gingivitis is allowed to progress, it will develop into the more severe stage of periodontal infection, which is called periodontitis. This is when things get really serious. You will certainly begin to experience symptoms that you won’t be able to ignore (nor should you), including:
- Gums that are swollen, extremely tender, and discolored
- Gums that bleed
- A change in your bite, or how your teeth fit together
- Gums that recede, or pull away from your teeth, forming pockets
- Teeth that appear longer than before
- Pain while chewing
- Loose teeth
- Pus in your mouth
- Bad breath that won’t go away
Periodontitis not only puts you at risk for tooth loss, but the infection may spread to other parts of your body, which can be deadly.
The Heart Disease Connection
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in both men and women in America. And the data strongly support a link between the state of your gums and the health of your heart. The issue seems to be inflammation. In periodontitis, bacteria cause your gums to become swollen and inflamed. The microbes leak out into the bloodstream, where they may harden the arteries, a condition (atherosclerosis) that inhibits blood flow to the heart. This puts you at risk for suffering a heart attack or stroke. Periodontal disease may also worsen existing heart problems.
Diabetes and Your Gums
People who are diabetic are much more susceptible to infection than the population as a whole. That includes gum infections. In fact, diabetes is considered a major risk factor for developing periodontal issues. And once they have gum issues, diabetics may find it much more difficult to control their blood sugar, which makes them more likely to suffer complications. If you do have diabetes, the best way to protect your gum health is to practice good diabetic control
The Research Continues
An infection that begins in your gums can spread out to the rest of your body in a surprising variety of ways. Research has shown that bacteria from your mouth may be aspirated into the lungs, where it can lead to pneumonia and other respiratory problems. Other studies have suggested a connection between periodontal disease and certain types of cancers, though research is ongoing.
We Restore Your Gum Health
At Texas Grins, we believe in a decisive and assertive approach when tackling gum disease — its potential dangers to your mouth and body demand it. If your gum disease is detected in the gingivitis stage, a schedule of regular professional cleanings and a meticulous dental hygiene at home may be all that is required. For more severe cases, we have a state-of-the-art, minimally invasive laser that comfortably removes diseased tissue.
To book an appointment at Texas Grins Cosmetic & Implant dentistry, fill out our convenient online form. Or call our Willow Park, TX office at 817-779-7111.