What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is extremely common, affecting over half of the adult American population. If left untreated, it can lead to severe infection, tooth loss, and even more serious complications such as cancer and heart attack. However, many people seem to regard gum disease as a minor inconvenience and fail to take measures to prevent or even reverse this disease. We here at Long Island Smile like to educate our patients about the dangers of gum disease and educate them on how to not only prevent it but to also reverse the early stages of this potentially lethal condition.
Why Do I Need to Worry About Gum Disease?
Gum disease has two major stages: early stage and advanced stage. The early stage of gum disease is also known as gingivitis. If caught early, gingivitis can be cured with very little effort or fuss. Signs of gingivitis include bad breath (halitosis), red or swollen gums, bleeding when you brush or floss, and receding gums. What you may notice missing from this list is pain; often, gum disease is a painless condition, making regular dental appointments all the more vital in catching it early.
If allowed to progress, gum disease can turn into periodontitis. This advanced stage of gum disease can cause a wide array of complications, including greatly receded gums, pain, and swelling in your gums, and loose teeth. You may start to lose teeth at this stage, as well. Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks, and pain while eating and chewing can also be a clue that you have periodontal disease. Periodontitis is extremely dangerous and can be quite harmful if left untreated. Complications of periodontitis include heart attack, stroke, cancer, and even death.
Gum disease forms in the presence of poor oral hygiene. Preventing gum disease is as easy as implementing a good oral hygiene regimen. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing every night. Antibacterial mouthwash can also be beneficial.
A healthy diet can also be beneficial in preventing gum disease, as sugar can encourage the growth of bacteria. These bacteria, when allowed to proliferate, can form a sticky and filmy residue on your teeth called plaque. Plaque is teeming with germs, and if you do not remove it regularly, the bacteria can release acids that can start to not only wear away at your teeth but also cause an infection in the gums. This is where gum disease comes from.
Certain demographics are more prone to gum disease than others. For instance, smokers are especially susceptible, as smoking weakens your immune system and makes you more prone to infection. Smoking can also lead to cancer and death, so if you smoke, stop immediately. Diabetics and people with immune disorders (or people with diseases that require immunosuppressant medications) are also more likely to get gum disease. Pregnant women can also be at elevated risk for gum disease. Obesity and advanced age are also associated with gum disease.
Taking good care of your teeth is one of the best things you can do to prevent gum disease. In addition to brushing and flossing, you need to schedule regular dental appointments at our office. If it has been longer than six months since your last dental checkup, please give us here at Long Island Smile a call at (516) 243-7473 today!