Gum disease, which is also called periodontal disease, affects millions of adults in the United States. It ranges from minor inflammation of the gums to critical problems that could cause your teeth to become loose and fall out. (In fact, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults.)
Gum disease begins when plaque is not completely removed from teeth after eating. The food particles and the bacteria in your mouth form plaque, a sticky substance that, if not brushed or flossed away, can harden into tartar, which can only be removed by a general dentist, hygienist, or periodontist.
What Are the Warning Signs of Gum Disease?
Unfortunately, gum disease often goes undetected for a time. The first signs that people notice are red, swollen gums or gums that bleed when brushing or flossing. This is called gingivitis, and can be treated with regular trips to the dentist and careful brushing and flossing.
If gum disease is not treated during this time, then it may produce inflammation around the tooth that can cause the gums to pull back from the teeth that they protect. Bacteria can then pool in and around these pockets, causing severe problems. This stage of inflammation is called periodontitis.
If you have bad breath, red or bleeding gums, swollen gums, receding gums, or loose teeth, ask your dentist if you should make an appointment with a periodontist.
How Does Gum Disease Affect Your Mouth and Overall Health?
Not all gum disease signs are necessarily caused only by your oral care habits. For example, it is common for pregnant women to have bleeding gums during pregnancy. Diabetics and smokers are more susceptible to gum disease.
Generally, people who have periodontitis are at a greater risk for losing healthy adult teeth when diseased gums pull away from the teeth and begin to harbor bacteria. Some studies have also found that those who have gum disease may be more likely to suffer from heart disease than those who don’t have gum disease. Pregnant women with periodontitis may also be more likely to deliver earlier than 38 weeks.
If you find that your gums are bleeding, red, or swollen, contact your family dentist, who can refer you to a periodontist like Dr. Werkmeister. His practice, in the North Hills / North Pittsburgh area, treats common gum problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. Call his office today to schedule an exam.