Although its name is highly recognizable, you might not know all there is to know about gum disease. For instance, even if your gums don’t hurt, the disease can still be present, quietly destroying your periodontal tissues. Understanding the nuances of the condition can help you better protect your long-term oral health, either by preventing gum disease or seeking immediate treatment if you notice its symptoms. To help you better recognize the warning signs of gum disease, we explain a few not-so-fun facts about the condition, including how it develops, the damage it could cause, and how best to treat it.
What You Should Know
- There are several risk factors for gum disease development, like smoking and chewing tobacco or consuming too much alcohol. However, the direct cause of the disease can be traced to oral bacteria that everyone possesses. Too many harmful bacteria gathering along your gum line can infect the tissues and work their way underneath your gums, leading to inflammation and tissue damage – the consequences of gum disease.
- The infection that causes gum disease is technically known as gingivitis. The redness, swelling, and bleeding in your gums can indicate it presence, but the signs are often ignored due to the lack of physical discomfort. If gingivitis is treated early, it may be reversed and gum disease prevented. Before long, however, it will mature into gum disease and will no longer be reversible.
- Because of the damage that gum disease and inflammation cause, the condition is the leading cause of adult tooth loss in the United States. It is also a significant risk factor in other chronic health conditions involving rampant inflammation, such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory issues, and dementia, to name just a few.
- The good news about gum disease is that it can be controlled even if it cannot be reversed. Periodontal treatment, including deep cleanings (scaling and root planing) and more frequent visits to your dentist’s office, can help you retain your natural teeth and mitigate risks to your systemic health in the future.