In honor of February’s Gum Disease Awareness Month – a global public awareness campaign for preventing gum disease – our practice wants to help spread the word about this insidious disease. Not only because if left untreated it can destroy your smile, but research has proven that gum disease is often the source of other health problems. According to an article on the Mayo Clinic’s website, “ Your oral health might affect, be affected by, or contribute to” heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, pregnancy and other conditions.
Let’s start by defining “gum disease.” Gum disease is a term used to described swelling, soreness or infection of the tissues supporting the teeth. There are two main forms of gum disease – gingivitis and periodontal disease:
GINGIVITIS: Gingivitis means ‘inflammation of the gums’. This is when the gums around the teeth become very red and swollen. Often the swollen gums bleed when they are brushed during cleaning.
PERIODONTAL DISEASE: Long-standing gingivitis can turn into periodontal disease. There are a number of types of periodontal disease and they all affect the tissues supporting the teeth. As the disease gets worse the bone anchoring teeth in the jaw is lost, making the teeth loose. If this is not treated, the teeth may eventually fall out.
WHAT CAUSES GUM DISEASE? One of the main causes of gum disease is a build-up of bacteria around the gums. Harmful bacteria builds up on the teeth and around the gum line each day. There are several factors in our everyday life that causes this to happen; i.e. smoking, medications, stress, hormones, etc. If the tooth and gum bacteria aren’t removed by a regular oral care routine of brushing and flossing, they can cause gum inflammation and gingivitis. Left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, which is more serious.
CONSEQUENCES: Again, if left untreated, gum disease causes bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums and receding gums. Bones, gums, and the tissue supporting your teeth can be destroyed causing tooth loss.
If that’s not bad enough, there are many general health issues that can result in untreated gum disease such as heart disease, arthritis, osteoporosis, speaking and eating problems, etc.
PREVENTING GUM DISEASE: Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to prevent gum disease.
- Stick to a diligent daily oral hygiene routine, including brushing and flossing at least twice a day.
- Keep your scheduled dental checkups and cleanings.
- After eating (especially snacks), drink water to rinse away food particles and oral debris.
- Limit bacteria-feeding sugars in your diet.
- If you still use tobacco, there’s no better time than now to give it up.
We hope at Brenner Dental of Park Slope giving you this information about gum disease – especially during Gum Disease Awareness Month – inspires you to be more proactive when it comes to protecting your oral health. After all, healthy teeth and gums are essential for a vibrant, beautiful smile!