According to the American Academy of Periodontology, up to 80% of the adult population has some level of periodontal (gum) disease, while only about 10% are aware of it. Unfortunately, most telltale signs of the disease do not appear until the middle or late stages. Neglecting to visit your dentist for routine checkups and ignoring the signs of gum disease can potentially threaten not just your oral health but your overall health as well.
Gum disease is caused by bacteria, and bacteria forms from plaque. Plaque is what starts to develop on your teeth after just minutes of eating and drinking. If you don’t brush and floss diligently, the plaque hardens on your teeth and irritates your gums. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is reversible after a visit to your dentist. At its most advanced stage, gum disease causes tooth loss and can also put you at a higher risk for heart disease or even certain cancers.
Learning the common signs of gum disease can truly save your smile and your health. Tell your dentist if you experience the following symptoms:
- Redness or swelling gums
- Bleeding gums, including when you brush or floss
- Gum tenderness or pain when chewing
- Gum recession (pulling away from teeth)
- Chronic bad breath
- Ill-fitting dentures
- Loose teeth
If you do find that your gum disease is at a moderate or advanced stage, there are periodontal treatments options available to you, including surgical and non-surgical treatments. You may be satisfied in your teeth that are strong, clean and white, yet if your gums are not healthy, you are putting your smile at a huge risk. Choosing to floss daily or quitting a smoking habit could dramatically change your risk for gum disease.