Most of us are keenly aware of the dangers of tooth loss, however, we give little thought to the tissue surrounding and supporting our teeth. Yet, a 2012 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that 47 percent of American adults have some form of Gum disease. The number rises to a staggering 70 percent among adults 65 years and older.
The effects of gum disease can be quite severe if left untreated. Though regular flossing and brushing can sometimes reverse its progress, if it reaches a more advanced state, professional help will be required.
Some of the major symptoms of gum disease include the following:
- Bleeding that occurs while brushing, flossing, or eating
- Inflamed, sore, and painful gums
- Teeth that are more fully exposed due to gum recession
- Teeth that are loose and/or drifting apart
- A difference in the bite pattern of your teeth or dentures
- Bad breath that just won’t go away
- Pus appearing between your teeth
The types of symptoms to expect and their severity will depend on how far along the disease has gotten. With gum disease, symptoms can sometimes be very mild until the problem becomes critical. That is why it is so important to keep a close eye on your gums. Most Americans with gum problems are considered to be only in the “moderate” stage, while about eight percent have “severe” gum disease. Taking action sooner rather than later can help you avoid infection and tooth loss.
The two most common types of gum disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. The former is a relatively mild problem that can usually be reversed. The latter involves pockets forming between separating teeth and can lead to deterioration of the gums, teeth, and bone below the gum line. One should get treatment for his or her gums as soon as possible, while still in the early gingivitis stage.
A good cleaning by a dental specialist can help fight back gum disease, but a life style change may also be in order. For example, smokers have a much higher rate of gum disease, and damage to the gums done by cigarette smoke cannot always be repaired. Another cause is the effects of certain antibiotics. Some of them reduce saliva output and thus leave the gums more exposed. Others cause abnormally high gum growth, making it difficult to keep the teeth and gums clean. Finally, getting plenty of vitamin C and brushing and flossing daily can help prevent or reverse many instances of gum disease.
It is a good idea to pay close attention to your gums while brushing. Make sure you brush your gums but only lightly. If you notice that your gums are too easily pained or bleed easily, you should suspect you have a gum problem developing. It is also important to get a periodic dental checkup that includes close inspection of your gums. The first step in correcting gum disease is simply identifying it. Since the effects of gum disease can be severe and permanent, you should watch out for it constantly. If you notice redness, soreness, bleeding, gum discoloration, pain while brushing, etc., you should waste no time in getting an expert opinion on the condition of your gums.