Gum disease is a serious health issue in the United States today. While some of its effects—such as tooth loss—are obvious, many less well-known effects are equally pernicious. Gum disease can directly contribute to heart problems and infections elsewhere in the body. Because it tends to be undiscovered until it is in its more advanced stages—in fact, nearly half of adults have some stage of gum disease—it is something requiring vigilance to guard against. With this in mind, it’s wise to know the signs of gum disease and what you may do if you discover that you have it.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is caused when bacteria on the teeth forms a substance known as plaque. The plaque can cause trauma to the gums along with the earlier symptoms of the disease. At its beginning stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis and is easily reversible with proper treatment.
As the disease progresses, the symptoms become worse, and some of the damage may be permanent. Gums will pull away from the teeth and tooth loss may occur. People with advanced gum disease are at an increased risk for heart disease and even some forms of cancer.
Signs of gum disease
Some of the early symptoms of gum disease are bad breath which seems to persist regardless of remedial actions, red and sore gums, gums that bleed (this may occur when brushing or flossing, but can occur at other times as well), and pain in your gums when you are chewing.
As the disease progresses the symptoms will become worse. The teeth may begin to wiggle and your dentures may no longer fit properly. Further, your teeth may not fit together when you chew the way they once did.
Prevention is of course the best treatment. Regularly perform oral hygiene tasks such as brushing, flossing, and having your teeth cleaned by the dentist at least every six months. If you do develop gum disease, your dentist may use antibiotics or other measures to fight it. If you have developed any of the symptoms noted above, you should immediately see your dentist and have the issue addressed before it progresses.