Gum disease is one of the most common oral health issues in America. The CDC has estimated that nearly half of all US adults suffer from gingivitis, which is the earliest stage of gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can have serious consequences, including permanent damage to your teeth and gums, and a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. Read on, and learn more about gum disease, how to prevent it, and the unexpected dangers of gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease refers to an infection of the gums, which is caused by poor oral hygiene. When you do not care for your mouth properly, oral bacteria build up and form plaque, which gets between your teeth and your gum line. Over time, plaque calcifies and turns into tartar, and the bacteria begin attacking the gums.
In minor cases of gum disease (gingivitis), this causes relatively minor symptoms like redness and swelling, bleeding when brushing, itching, and bad breath (halitosis). If left untreated, though, the disease can progress. Then, it will cause permanent structural damage to your gums, teeth and jaw, as well as symptoms like tooth loss, pus between your teeth, gum recession, and more.
Is Gum Disease Preventable?
Yes. Proper oral hygiene can prevent gum disease, and reverse minor cases of gingivitis. To prevent gum disease, you must brush properly 2-3 times per day for at least 2 minutes, floss once per day, and see your dentist every six months for a cleaning and oral exam.
In addition, if you have gingivitis, the first stage of the disease, a deep cleaning (scaling and root planning) can be used to eliminate the bacteria that cause gum disease and can reverse its effects.
What Other Complications Can Gum Disease Lead To?
Gum disease has serious ramifications both for your oral health, and overall health. It will destroy your teeth and gums if left untreated, but it can also cause health issues throughout the rest of your body. Gum disease is associated with a higher risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and has also been associated with a much higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
Take Care of Your Mouth – And Prevent Gum Disease
Gum disease may be a common oral health issue. But if you care for your mouth properly, you won’t have to worry about its effects on your oral and overall health. So, make sure you’re brushing and flossing, and seeing your dentist for regular checkups and teeth cleanings. That’s the best way to prevent gum disease.