85% of US adults have some form of gum disease. From the beginning stages of gingivitis to the further advanced stages of periodontitis. Gum disease is one of the most widespread diseases in our society, yet remains largely unknown.
Despite varying numbers, one fact is constant – millions of Americans have gum disease. And, unfortunately, the odds are you may have it, too; you just don’t know it. Here’s what you must know about gum disease and what you can do about it.
Gum disease, also known as "periodontal disease", is an infection of the tissues and bone that support your teeth. It happens when germs infect the gum tissues throughout the teeth, causing redness, swelling, and bleeding. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth decay/loss in adults. It has also been linked to major health problems that you may never think of connecting with gum disease. These include, but are not limited to, strokes, heart disease, certain cancers and more.
Gingivitis and periodontitis are two stages or gum disease. Here’s the difference between them:
Gingivitis: A less severe form of gum disease, gingivitis is when your gums get inflamed due to plaque build up. Plaque is the film found on your teeth. It is a sticky mixture of germs and bacteria known as a biofilm. If not brushed away, plaque will harden into a barnacle-like material to form calculus, commonly known as tartar. The same as lime deposits on a shower drain, the hardened calculus is difficult to remove. If not taken care of, the biofilm will keep growing and lead to infecting your gums; on occasion causing redness and bleeding.
Periodontitis: If Gingivitis is left untreated, it will advance to periodontitis. With periodontitis, calculus deposits develop on the surface of your teeth, edging down below your gum line. This condition causes your gums to separate slightly from the teeth and supporting bone, forming periodontal pockets. It creates swelling, bleeding, pain while chewing, teeth misalignment and looseness. Other side effects are sores in the mouth, bad breath, and sensitive teeth. A discharge of puss from the gums, called pyorrhea, is another a symptom of periodontitis.
If you do not seek treatment, the infection and the pockets may continue to deepen, eating away at the jawbone until your teeth decay, become loose and fall out.
Can I avoid getting gum disease?
Prevention is always the best option. It's the least painful and least expensive path to good health. If there are no infections, then your dentist or hygienist will suggest a plan that includes regular brushing, flossing and office visits as your best bet for avoiding dental infections.
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