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WARNING: More Than Half of American Adults Have Gum Disease!

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth. It’s an infection of the gums and surrounding tissue. Seventy percent of adult tooth loss is caused by gum disease, according to the Academy of General Dentistry. One out of every two American adults aged 30 and over has periodontal disease, according to recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A study titled Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010 estimates that 47.2 percent of American adults have mild, moderate or severe gum disease. In adults 65 and older, prevalence rates increase to 70.1 percent.

What are the Symptoms of Gum Disease?

It is very possible to have gum disease and have no symptoms or warning signs. That’s why it’s so important to have regular dental check-ups and periodontal examinations. Some common warning signs are:

  • Gums that bleed during brushing and flossing

  • Red, swollen or tender gums

  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth

  • Receding gums

  • Chronic halitosis (bad breath)

  • Loose teeth

  • Spaces between teeth that were never there before

  • Changes in your bite

What Causes Gum Disease?

Gum disease is caused by bacteria. The mouth is filled with an innumerable amount of bacteria! Certain bacteria accumulate in the sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on our teeth known as plaque. Bacterial plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. If plaque isn’t removed each day by brushing and flossing, it hardens into a rough, porous substance called calculus (also known as tartar).Toxins produced and released by bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. These toxins cause the breakdown of the fibers that hold the gums tightly to the teeth, creating periodontal pockets that fill with even more toxins and bacteria. As the disease progresses, pockets extend deeper, and the bacteria moves down until the bone that holds the tooth in place is destroyed. The tooth eventually will fall out or require extraction

The good news is that the first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, is reversible. If you do not receive professional cleanings and improve your oral hygiene to halt the spread of gingivitis, the infection will spread from the gums to the ligaments and bone supporting the teeth. Advanced gum disease is called periodontitis. It’s this chronic periodontitis that can lead to the loss of tissue and bone that support the teeth.

There are some factors that increase the risk of developing gum disease. They are:

  • poor oral hygiene

  • smoking or chewing tobacco

  • genetics

  • crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean

  • pregnancy

  • diabetes

  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives

Your Oral Health Affects Your Overall Health

The mouth is the gateway to your total health. If your mouth is unhealthy your whole entire body can be at risk. Research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing and there is a rapidly growing body of science that is being studied.

While a link is not conclusive, studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with many other health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, stroke, Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, and low birth weight babies .

How do you prevent gum disease?

Removing plaque through daily brushing, flossing and professional cleaning is the best way to minimize your risk. We can design a personalized program of home oral care to meet your needs. The dental hygienists in our office have received advanced training in diagnosing and treating gum disease. It’s the first thing they look for in a patient’s mouth!

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