In 2009 the CDC released results from a study stating that nearly half of adult Americans suffer from gum disease. This is significant. Gum disease is extremely prevalent, dangerous, and as a result we strive to educate the public about the signs and symptoms as well as the available treatments. The good news is that gum disease is preventable. We hope you enjoy this post!
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a term that is often heard but many people do not know exactly what it is. Gingivitis is the beginning stages of gum disease. Gingivitis is an intra-oral infection caused by many factors but most often the result of inadequate home care. Factors associated with gingivitis include diabetes, stress, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal dysfunction, HIV, and certain medications. Symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Red swollen gums
- Bleeding during brushing, flossing, or certain foods
- Loose teeth
- Bad breath
- Changes in bite
- Painful gums
- Gum tissues that are receding away from the teeth
What is Periodontitis?
Although gingivitis is completely reversible, periodontitis is not. As gingivitis progresses, it can turn into periodontitis. While gingivitis simply affects the gum tissues, periodontitis progresses and affects the supporting tissues that hold the teeth in place as well as the jaw bones. Periodontitis results in a reduction in these structures and eventually leads to tooth loss. This is not only problematic for the existing teeth but also makes the replacement of these teeth much more difficult.
Why is Gum Disease So Dangerous?
Not only can gum disease leave you with no teeth, but systemic complications also must be considered. Numerous studies have found that gum disease and heart disease are linked and the risk of heart disease is increased with the prevalence of gingivitis and periodontitis. In addition, the risk of stroke is increased with the incidence of oral infections. Similarly, diabetic complications are increased with gum disease as are pregnancy risk factors and the prevalence of infective endocarditis.
How is Gingivitis and Periodontitis Treated?
While the damage that has been done with periodontitis is irreversible, the problems with gingivitis are preventable and treatable. The first step to prevent and treat these diseases is a visit with the dental hygienist. There is no way to eliminate the disease without eliminating the cause. A thorough cleaning will set the stage for healing to begin. From there, a thorough regimen of home care must be adhered to. Feel free to check out our past blog post on 5 tips to healthy gums and teeth.
The American Academy of Periodontology has developed a periodontal risk self-assessment form. While there is no replacement for a dental visit to determine the risk or presence of gum disease, this assessment will allow you to determine if you are at risk.
We welcome new patients in the Orange Park area with questions and comments! Feel free to contact us electronically any time or call us at (904)602-8396.