September is National Gum Health Month, and that means it’s time to brush up on your oral health knowledge! Did you know that gum disease has been linked to all sorts of other diseases like diabetes, stroke, Alzheimer’s Disease, heart disease, and more? In honor of National Gum Health Month, here is what you need to know about gum disease:
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria. The mouth has two different types of bacteria: good and bad. The good type is found in the saliva, but it’s not enough to control harmful microorganisms like plaque (the invisible film of bacteria that forms on the teeth). Plaque contains thousands of bacterial cells per millimeter; if left untreated, these can eventually buildup along the gum line and lead to tartar build-up. Excess plaque and tartar buildup causes inflammation, which leads to gum disease.
There are two forms of gum disease: gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums; and periodontitis, which is a more serious form that destroys supporting bone and tissues. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can be reversed with treatment. Without treatment, however, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease that is also the top cause of tooth loss in adults.
What are the symptoms?
The two main symptoms of gum disease include redness in your mouth as well as swollen or tender gums. Other symptoms of gum disease can include:
- bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- receding gums (gums that are pulling away from teeth)
- persistent bad breath or an unusual taste in your mouth
- teeth that are loose or shifting out of place
- difficulty chewing food properly
- swollen lymph nodes under the jaw.
Gum disease can be painless, especially in the early stages, so it’s important to visit your dentist regularly for a check up. The American Dental Association recommends that everyone visit their dentist twice a year for a gum disease screening. During a dental checkup, your dentist will examine your gums and teeth to determine if there is any sign of gum disease. If you are at risk, your dentist can provide treatment before the condition gets worse.
How is it prevented?
There are many ways to prevent gum disease, including:
- brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- flossing daily to remove plaque and tartar buildup
- avoiding tobacco products
- visiting your dentist every six months (or more) for a dental checkup and professional teeth cleaning
- drinking plenty of water
- avoiding or limiting the amount of sugary foods and beverages you consume
There are many factors that contribute to gum disease including heredity, diet, smoking, diabetes mellitus (sugar control disorder), stress, and certain medications. All these factors can lead to inflammation in your mouth, which leads to gum disease. Because of this, certain people may be at a higher risk of developing gum disease than others. If you are at an increased risk of developing gum disease, then your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings and checkups so that they can closely monitor your oral health.
Your dental health is vital to your overall wellness, so make sure you are protecting your smile by practicing good oral hygiene habits starting today! Call our office today to schedule an oral examination.
Dr. Roman Fedorciw has been in private practice in Cromwell since 1991. He is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the American Dental Association. He is also a member of the Connecticut Dental Association and Middlesex County Dental Association. Dr. Fedorciw has been acknowledged by his peers as one of the “Top Dentists” in Hartford County by Hartford Magazine and in the state of Connecticut by Connecticut Magazine.