September is National Gum Care Month and it’s an opportune time to educate you on gum disease. Did you know just how common gum disease is? And do you know the warning signs that may indicate you have it, or the personal risk factors that could contribute? The good news is, treatments for gum disease are available, but the sooner gum disease is detected, the easier it is to treat.
What is Gum Disease?
According to the ADA MouthHealthy article, “Common Myths of Gum Disease,” gum disease is an infection of the tissues that surround and support your teeth. It starts with plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on teeth. If plaque is not removed with daily brushing and cleaning between your teeth, it eventually hardens to become calculus or tartar, and this is what can lead to gum infection.
How Common is Gum Disease?
The same above ADA MouthHealthy article claims that gum disease is extremely common. The article cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which reports that half of adults age 30 and older suffer from some form of gum disease.
The ADA MouthHealthy article, “Gum Disease,” lists the warning signs that may indicate you have gum disease. It also cautions that gum disease is usually painless, so pain may very likely not be an indicator that you have it.
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- Any change in the fit of partial dentures
The ADA article, “Gum Disease,” also lists the below risk factors for developing gum disease.
- Poor oral hygiene
- Smoking or chewing tobacco
- Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
- Medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. The ADA article, “Gum Disease,” explains that if you have gingivitis, your gums will become red, swollen, and will bleed easily. The good news is, says the article, this stage is reversible and can usually be addressed with professional cleanings and daily brushing and flossing.
More serious gum disease is called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, bone to be lost, and teeth to loosen or fall out. The ADA MouthHealthy article “Periodoncia,” explains that in such cases, the following treatments may be recommended:
- Scaling and root planing (the cleaning of infected root surfaces)
- Regenerative procedures (the reversal of bone loss and tissue)
- Surgical procedures that may include gum surgery
Gum disease can be treated, but most occurrences of gum disease can be prevented. That is why it is SO important to maintain good hygiene and to visit your dentist regularly. If you brush twice a day, clean between your teeth daily, eat a balanced diet, and adhere to the schedule prescribed by your dentist for dental checkups, you can do much to help prevent gum disease!
Common Myths of Gum Disease. ADA MouthHealthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/common-myths-of-gum-disease. Accessed September 7, 2023.
Gum Disease. ADA MouthHealthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/gum-disease. Accessed September 7, 2023.
Periodoncia. ADA MouthHealthy. https://www.mouthhealthy.org/all-topics-a-z/periodoncia. Accessed September 7, 2023.